Do I have your attention?

In today’s Attention Economy, the currency of power is not Attention, it’s Engagement.

With 7.4 billion people on Earth, and 1.3 billion in the developed world overloaded by information, how do you capture attention when there’s so much noise?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a start-up, or an enterprise, entertainer, or politician—it seems anyone seeking to monetise their profile or brand is vying for attention in this attention economy.

American economist and political scientist, Herbert Simon, was clearly ahead of his time. In the early 1970s, he realised that in an era of media saturation, information was no longer a scarce resource—instead, what was becoming scarce and hence in true demand, was people’s attention. Today, how to monetise attention is now the greatest economic challenge and opportunity.

Even traditional attention seekers, such as advertisers, media outlets and the entertainment industry, are increasingly finding themselves in unchartered waters, amongst a sea of digital and niche competitors. It’s no secret, then, that gaining and maintaining an audience is proving more difficult for traditional media and advertisers, with ratings falling and engagement difficult to measure. 

The hard truth is, if you don’t capture of the attention of your audience and consumers, your business, or your brand will not survive. 

Attention is power. And, while capturing it is difficult, it’s not impossible.

So, how do you stand out?

If you have resources, attention is easy to manufacture. Attention can be bought, hype can be manufactured. But, gaining attention is only one part of the equation—once you have it, keeping it and making it a meaningful engagement is far more challenging.

The answer is engagement—and the deeper you can engage, the stronger an emotional connection you will foster with your audience, the greater the brand loyalty you will build. 

Why? We know that as people, we make decisions based largely on emotion. Our behaviour as consumers is based on how we feel about your brand. Successful brands today connect on an emotional level. They are part of a cultural narrative that defines us.

Engagement is the key to lasting business success in an attention economy. 

So, how do we create engagement?

As a data analyst and data translator (I turn complex maths into English), much of my work has been in understanding audience engagement. But, sadly, often the maths only tells part of the story. Our current understanding of engagement through traditional metrics like impressions, clicks through to websites, opening of newsletters, purchases, page views, followers, likes, shares and TV ratings, are all blunt measures. 

But, thanks to language-based data, there is now a more powerful way to use big data and Artificial Intelligence to uncover what is truly driving consumer and audience engagement. We can now measure and analyse emotions through language-based data, using machine learning in a manner that’s systematic, unbiased, and far more profound in what it can tell us.

There’s 4.5 billion of us that have access to the internet. We consume content all the time. Finally, through language-based data, we can understand why particular patterns of engagement are taking place. 

Language-based data—which reveals the depth and type of emotions behind the engagement—is opening up a world of possibilities for content creators, brand strategists, creatives, product developers, public relations and policy makers. 

If your industry depends on engaging humans, this depth of understanding is invaluable.If you know how people feel, you can better engage with what they care deeply about.

All aspects of brand or content storytelling no longer need to operate on the insights of past behaviours. Advertisers or showrunners can now test the key concepts of a campaign or narrative arcs or characters, by measuring, in real time, whether the language and creative achieves engagement with the audience you seek. Marketers have never had this ability to measure so effectively and widely before, making it an exciting time indeed.

As we enter the exciting era of AI, through analysing audience emotion, we can help brands optimise the scarcest resource today. We can now help you transform the audience attention you manufacture into deep and long-term engagement. 

If you’d like to understand how language-based data can deepen your engagement, please feel free to connect with me.

Elisa Choy is known as the Data Whisperer. She is an experienced economist and data analyst, and Co-Founder of Maven Intelligence, Australia’s first strategic brand agency powered by AI.

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