Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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More Thoughts on Attention

On my walk to work this morning, I had what I think is a little epiphany about this whole Attention thing I wrote about the other day. One of the things that kept tripping me up was that everyone kept referring to “advertisers” as the ones being interested in attention data. While I do agree, I think the primary target is retailers (like Amazon), and especially those who advertise with Search Engine Marketing. The idea is that rather than going with a cost-per-click model, wouldn’t they rather go with a cost-per-lead, since that’s what they’re hoping will come with a click anyway?

I’m completely aware that this is a semantic issue, but it seems like a pretty big one. Maybe I’ve completely missed it again, but if not I think AttentionTrust and those involved need to consider their messaging must more closely. I know that retailer is probably not the best term, but advertiser to me is very misleading. Maybe it’s because I’m in the advertising industry, but when I hear advertiser I think either marketing company or I think huge conglomerate (read: Nike). For big brands, especially those offline, advertising is not so much about generating leads as it is about generating brand awareness. Of course a lead is what they eventually hope to generate, but because of the offline purchase cycle, this becomes an important step.

As I write this, however, I realize that even for big companies this could be important as a tool to find influencers. As I mentioned in my last post, the one thing that jumped out with AttentionTrust was the opportunity to market one-to-one. There’s no better way to move product than to find the influencers (cool kids) and get your products in their hand, on their feet and in their head. Word of mouth works.

I agree that it does offer some big opportunities for cutting out the middlemen and talking directly to companies that you’re interested in. With all that said, though, there are still a number of unanswered questions in my mind. So here’s a lit of things I get and don’t get about AttentionTrust

1. I get that I deserve to own my own attention data and with the help of the Attention Recorder I can hold onto that information. I also understand that someone like /ROOT can, in theory, help me to find companies who are interested in exchanging my data for goods or services.

2. I don’t get how this process could work the opposite way. If you’re a company trying to generate a lead where you reach out to the consumer, how could you use attention data to find that person without them offering it to you?

3. I don’t get how a company knows your attention data is actually valuable. Joshua Porter mentioned this in the comments of the last entry and I think he’s right: how do you know it’s not false metadata?

4. I get that I can choose to share or not share my Attention data with whoever I choose and that there are big opportunities for companies to use my attention data to give me extremely personalized services.

That’s about all I can think of for now. I’m enjoying this conversation and feel like I’m actually starting to wrap my head around this Attention stuff. But there’s one really big thing.

If it’s this hard to understand, it’ll never catch on.

I think it’s important to remember that.

November 21, 2005