attention economics
n. An economic model based on the expanding amount of available information and the static amount of attention consumers can devote to that information.

Example Citation:
But in the US Free-PC has gone further still: you give them your demographics, they give you a top-of-the-range branded computer with all the bells and whistles and free internet access. Wired reports that Free-PC expected to get 10,000 applications; it got 500 000!

Will it work? Latest statistics show that ad spend in the US is $2 billion a year. There are 87 million connected people in the US and Canada, meaning that adspend per person is about $24 a year.

Computers apparently sell in the US at about $800; an internet connection costs under $20.00 a month. Assume a two-year life on the machine and the cost per person is about $50.00 per month or $600 a year.

Not many companies would want to give away $600 a year in the hope of getting $24 back. Free-PC evidently believes it can at least get advertising to cover its costs.

This is being called attention economics. You do anything you can to get attention, even monetise it by giving away free stuff which costs you money.
—Kevin Davie, "Bewitching economics," Africa News, February 16, 1999

Earliest Citation:
There is the reality of attention economics. ...One of the great ironies of information economics is that while information can be trivially copied and the information bandwidth continues to widen, the individual's attention bandwidth is as narrow as ever.
—R. U. Sirius with St. Jude, "The Medium is the Message and the Message is Voyeurism," Wired, February 1, 1994

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