Advertising is out of control because there is no price on your attention

Thomas R. Wells posted an interesting take on why advertising is running amok in an article on 3 Quarks Daily.  He postulates that the root cause is that there is no monetary price on our attention: we don’t expect to be paid for having our focus put on an advertising. The result is that competition only occurs between companies vying to fill slots with their own advertising.  Because there is no cost associated with acquiring our attention, there is no push-back against the natural force to market to us.

Conceptually, there seem to be some good arguments against this.  First, the cost lies therein that in order to capture our attention, money must be invested in creating something that we want to watch, like a TV show or a sports event.  Second, human attention is limited: true multi-tasking does not exist, and we can only hold 7 ‘chunks’ of information in our minds at any time.  But either way, I don’t think anyone wants the amount of attention they have to be the limiting factor in how much advertising they see, or everything they want to pay attention to turning into a bait-and-switch for advertising.

Thomas suggests that the solution is a kind of grass-roots movement, were individuals reclaim their right and demand to be rewarded monetarily for their attention.  Once everyone signs up, advertisers will have no choice but to be limited not only by competition for the channel with each other, but also by  the costs of the channel itself.  However, he doesn’t talk about a framework for that movement: how can you get people to sign up?  How do you get to 100 users? 1000? 7.1Bn?  At TwoSense we think the way to start is to create a new channel that users control, and that they monetize themselves.  Such a channel is far superior in quality than any other bait-and-switch channel, and can out-compete all other channels even with the extra price tag.  Eventually, we hope users will dominate that market, with the support of the TwoSense framework.

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