Tech Line

Attention Economy, Meet Hybrid Experience

We truly live in the “Information Age.” The amount of data created every day will only continue to increase, and the AI systems that manage and decipher all of it are only getting better and easier to access. Nevertheless, businesses continue to have trouble connecting with consumers. One reason for this is that, we are not only in the Information Age, but we are experiencing the “Attention Economy.”

A recent article in Business Today explains: “What is the scarcest resource? In today’s ‘attention economy,’ our very own attention has become a scarce commodity. We are bombarded with countless [pieces of] information, from social media to news sources, [and] it is difficult for any one source to truly captivate our attention. . . . While we cannot deny the benefits that technology has brought us, how can we become more responsible consumers in an economy that commodifies our attention?

This economic situation is directly responsible for the absurd number of ads you see—most Americans are accosted with 4,000 to 10,000 a day. Think about how many unopened emails you have right now, the last TV commercial you saw, or that 15-second YouTube ad. Don’t remember or even care, right? Or you might even be annoyed.  

You are in the top tier of digital marketers if only 97 out of 100 people ignore you. In baseball terms, you’d be batting .030 and either sitting on the bench or sent down to Scranton.

Because of technology, reaching huge numbers of people is cheap and easy—but what’s the point if they barely notice what you say and there is no clear engagement? The average email click-rate for all industries is only 2.62 percent. Another way to look at it is:  You are in the top tier of digital marketers if only 97 out of 100 people ignore you. In baseball terms, you’d be batting .030 and either sitting on the bench or sent down to Scranton.  

Many have turned this “adpocalypse” into a revenue stream, letting you buy or subscribe to an ad-free experience. But can’t we do better? According to Cindy Goss, founder and president of Propel Business Solutions, Inc., a Southern California-based branding and marketing firm, the Attention Economy is failing, and people are openly revolting. Every industry “is courting their target audience’s attention in more competitive ways than ever before. But people are no longer listening—there’s too much content in the Attention Economy for anyone to even make sense of it, much less use it to its full advantage,” according to Goss.  

Michael Ashley, author and contributor to several magazines, thinks that businesses are looking at it all the wrong way. Digital technology, and AI in particular, is not some magic cure-all for everything a business might face, nor will it transform the economy single-handedly. “After all the hysteria dies down, I think we will find a new cycle of thinking, one in which we celebrate the contributions of both humans and machines.”  

Human Experience, Not Customer Experience

Real connections—measured in far larger scales than seconds—is where the Attention Economy is pushing things. In a recent Deloitte Digital study covering 16,000 respondents, more than half said they desired a more “human” experience from their virtual environments.

According to Deloitte: “In this frenetic, impersonal digital age, we believe that people want to be treated like humans and less a part of a homogenous customer experience. Organizations that go beyond delivering on customer experience to elevating the human experience will be better positioned to create more meaningful connections, foster loyalty, and ultimately drive growth. When we focus on the human experience, we go beyond just showing up. We build relationships that matter. We seize attention, build love, inspire dreams, create connections, respect and recognize individuals, and build confidence.”

We could not agree more. To win in the attention economy—and to give people what they want and need—businesses must go beyond digital. People move seamlessly between the digital and physical worlds, and we must engage them holistically and authentically wherever they are and however we can. That is the nature of the Hybrid Experience.