An update on the Attention Economy

Isla Prentis, Intelligence Lead at Tirisano Consulting, a division within The MediaShop

Let’s rewind to the beginning of last year. We were living in a world of increasing information and distractions. A world where we hadn’t even really heard of Covid-19. So much has changed since then, but when it comes to attention, the fight became a whole lot tougher as distraction took a giant leap forward.

We are constantly asked for the best way to win the fight in the attention economy: there is no golden formula and no single answer to the question. As with so many things in life, we need to stop worrying about the answers and go back to the questions.

Questions lead to understanding, not just knowledge. Ultimately, we’re trying to connect with a human being. A consumer is a person before they are a target market or audience bucket and although there’s a world of information about how to build a successful brand, some of it is contradictory.

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My advice is to absorb as much as possible, understand all the options and the science, and then figure out the right questions to ask. Once you know what they are, the answers will start to write themselves from the understanding that you have built. You can have the same starting point and destination, and still take a different path to get there.

My favourite word at the moment is balance. In life, we’re always told to pick a lane, pick an answer. But I truly believe that it’s all about balance. How do you balance up the different options to find the best possible answer?

There’s so much talk about engagement these days, but we need to ask ourselves what it really is. Is it a metric for your media buying? It could be, but that’s not all it is. It’s the content that determines the engagement.

In a world saturated with content, we need to make sure that our message (big or small) draws the consumer in — after all, brands no longer have the control or power.

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you might be trying to get the consumer to stay for a short or long while, but either way, the most important part is getting their attention. This world in which the consumer is in control demands authenticity and bravery.


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Together with authenticity and bravery, this is where we introduce creativity to the conversation. There are many definitions of creativity, and so there should be given the nature of the concept. For me, creativity is finding the unexpected solution.

Everything in life starts with a question or a challenge and creativity is simply solving it in an unexpected way. Make sure that you inject creativity into everything that you do. Constantly seek to find the unexpected answer, or even better — the unexpected answer to an unexpected question.

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