The Attention Economy 2020: Social Media, Mobile, Streaming

In Tim Wu’s excellent book, “The Attention Merchants,” Wu paints a grim history of advertising attempting to get attention, especially as technology enters the picture. He is undecided as to whether digital ads are a 99-cent store, a cesspool, or both:

“Over the long term [digital ads] would become something of a 99-cent store, if not an outright cesspool,” Wu explains.

Like it or not, “attention” is the engine of the new economy. Every metric that we value, individually or professional, is linked to attention: likes, follows, subscribers, fans, views, clicks, downloads, conversions, sign-ups are all simple units of attention.

Take the fundamental unit of display advertising: the retargeting ad. Retargeting ads are the ads that follow you around the Internet after you’ve visited a product. These ads are doing one thing: keeping your attention. It works. That’s why advertisers spent around $60 billion in programmatic advertising last year.

The 99-cent store-slash-cesspool perception is usually concerned about quality, rather than advertising itself. As a business, getting attention is great. But getting desperate for attention is not so great. No one is nostalgic for the days of pop-ads.

The attention economy has evolved as advertising has gotten more sophisticated and the channels and mediums of online content have changed.

The attention economy is the foundation of the tech economy. The real question is where, how, and why people pay attention.

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How One Author Makes Facebook Work


Facebook has been something of a Rubik’s Cube for authors. Even if you take a look at some of the most famous authors’ Facebook Pages, you can tell that the teams pulling the strings have a pretty poor understanding of how it all works.

In my quest for authors who use Facebook effectively, I first came across the Facebook Page of E.L James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, and talked about why that Facebook Page worked.

But now, I’ve finally found Inglath Cooper, who has over 18,000 Likes and a really active fan engagement.

What’s her secret?

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[GUIDE] How to Use a Blog To Show Off Your Creative Work

getreadersblogguideWhen it comes to blogging, nothing is ever easy.

Creative people who are blogging as a way to show off their work have it even harder.

You can upload as many art pieces and short stories as you want, but it seems almost impossible to get the kind of traffic you want.

In many cases, your pieces may get no traffic at all.

So, let’s fix that.

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How to Market Your Book as a Product Without Feeling Guilty

100_1264When it comes to the word “marketing,” writers get squeamish.

Call our books a “product,” and you’re likely to catch a fist to the face.

Okay, maybe not a fist. But at least a curled nose and some whispered muttering about the evils of capitalism.

Well, unfortunately for your sense of social justice, capitalism is here to stay. That means that marketing is a key to getting anyone to read your stuff and, well… your book is a product.

Your book is a product.

I know, I know. It doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t feel right. So let me tell you a little story that involves some mountains, a national park, and the inescapable crowd of Humanity.

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Why You Need to Curate Your Own Content

You know the guys in the museum that show people things behind the glass and then tell them why those things are significant?

When you post some funny thing on Facebook, that guy in the museum is you.

Sure, you may be sharing stuff about a dog wearing a hat instead of showing off a dinosaur skull, but you’re still a curator.

Curating content has grown increasingly important as the demand for content itself grows exponentially. But there’s something that’s even better than curating any old content… curating your own content.

This means giving your audience what they want in the way you want them to see it.

But before we get to that, let’s talk about plain old curation.

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How A Sci-Fi Magazine Uses Facebook to Sell Issues

When authors talk about promoting their books, the “S” word isn’t far behind.

Everyone knows social media is important for writers in some abstract context, but they’re not sure how it actually works.

That includes me.

I’ve tried investigating it all month, first by interviewing author Holly Robinson about how she uses Twitter. Then, by taking a look at the Facebook Pages of famous authors.

Now, I wanted to talk to someone who runs a magazine to see how Facebook is working as a marketing platform.

Here’s my interview with Shane Collins, the editor-in-chief of The Speculative Edge, a sci-fi magazine that’s just five months old.

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What We Can Learn From France and Google’s War Over Free Content

There’s a territorial dispute afoot, have you heard about it?

French newspaper publishers have accused Google of deterring would-be readers by displaying the first sentences of an article in “Google News.”

The working theory is that, rather than clicking into the website for the full article, readers graze and move on, like information-hungry cows wandering a pasture.

In an undeniably Napoleonic flourish, the publishers argue that Google should pay to show those appetizing sentences in Google News.

Let battle be joined.

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When You Can’t Just Make Art for Art’s Sake

My last blog post, which talked about the merger between Penguin and Random House, reminded me of an important lesson that, as someone who enjoys the notion of “being creative,” I shouldn’t have forgotten.

On the internet, you can’t make art for art’s sake.

If you do, that’s more or less assuming that your art is so good and so compelling that it will radiate through the deep infinite space of online content like a burning sun of genius.

I was guilty of this notion for a while. I took pride that I didn’t “blog” in the traditional sense, I just generously gave away my masterpieces to the unknowable masses.

That’s the biggest misconception among writers, artists, and musicians who are trying to use to the internet as a platform for their pieces:

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Why You Should Care About Tumblr (And Why You Shouldn’t)

Tumblr. Heard of it? It’s a nifty, micro-blogging website that takes the best parts of Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, then mercilessly mashes them altogether.

More than anything, it looks like an interactive copyright violation.

But this interactive copyright violation has been picking up steam. I’ve wanted to write about it for a month, especially after some recent studies, because I’ve wanted to start experimenting with its potential marketing impact… but there’s one small difficulty.

First, let’s go over the basics about why you should care about Tumblr in the first place:

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Facebook’s IPO: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly


Today marks a new low in Facebook’s share value as the initial lock-up for employees ended and some key people left the company.

This has prompted a flurry of speculation about whether Facebook is doomed or not. I’m not going to add my arrow to said flurry, but I’d like to take a step back and ponder what this dive really means.

Because, believe it or not, it’s not because Facebook is bad for business. I know that, because, as a content developer for Constant Contact, I’ve interviewed dozens of small businesses and organizations that have seen some tremendous successes on Facebook.

There’s the bookbinder that made $15,000 from Facebook. The hardware store that made more than $30,000. The nonprofit that raised $10,000, the fundraiser that raised $600 from a Facebook campaign. The list goes on and on.

Businesses are getting used to Facebook. According to Facebook’s S-1 Filing in February of this year, about four million businesses have Facebook Pages.

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