Capturing attention in the attention deficit economy

This article is part of a series of articles on capturing attention in the attention deficit economy. Read more.

We live in an attention economy, where a large part of our economy and society is underpinned by the practice of capturing and trading attention for the benefits of commerce. Essentially, if someone can earn your attention, they can sell it to someone who wants your attention.

We often lose sight of this, but as Howard Gossage puts it, "When advertising talks about the audience, it doesn't mean its audience, it means somebody else's, gathered there to watch or read something else." We are renting out an audience, gathered to watch something else.

The morality and implications of this are not often examined, as it's largely taken for granted as 'how the world works'. The exact nature of this dynamic varies by region, from regulation (such as GDPR across Europe) to cultural norms and to bold steps like the one taken by São Paulo to ban all outdoor advertising.