The traditional economic problem is one of allocating scarce commodities in the face of infinite desires. Now, in the rapidly emerging information economy, digital goods are anything but scarce; the bits and bytes that make up a news story or music recording can be infinitely and perfectly reproduced at low or zero cost. This wealth of content has given renewed importance to a particular kind of scarcity: the scarcity of attention. This talk will examine the central role of attention in online markets and its economic implications for businesses and consumers. It discusses the centrality of attention in the business models of a broad spectrum of online enterprises, and show how such considerations shape pricing and consumers’ end experience. It also examines the role of search engines as important gatekeepers of attention and explains how economic tools are being used to make the online search industry more effective in this function.
About the speakers