The Attention Arms Race

If we measured customer attention like Gross Domestic Product, we’d know we were in trouble.  Advertising, promotion and information are locked in an inflationary spiral as too much data chases too few eyeballs.  Per capita, ‘Gross Domestic Attention’ (let’s call it GDA) is falling off a cliff.

The SEO money pit

Here’s a personal example.  Yesterday, I paid $299 dollars to Yahoo for a little, insignificant Directory listing for Opine Consulting (which is here, in case you’re curious).

Submitting to the big directories is part of basic belt and braces Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  However, $299 is a lot of money for an obscure little raindrop of a link in the big, wide ocean of the internet.  For the keyword “innovation” my site is competing against 112 million other pages on Google.  For ‘marketing’, I’m up against half-a-billion alternatives.  For ‘service’ there are just a shade under 10 billion pages.

SEO is at the sharp-end of the global attention famine.  In the SEO arms race, only the biggest juggernauts (and of course the channel owners) can be long-run winners.    The internet is moving towards a globally perfect market and back-links, directory submissions, paid search, and article marketing are money-pits.

Innovation is worth more than cash

Thinking about the SEO arms race, is making me get very clear about these principles:

  1. Imagination is worth more than cash.  A resonant idea that people pick up on, creates more exposure than £££s of traditional marketing expenditure.
  2. Innovation has no monopolies.  If anything, it’s inverse to size as many large organisations are bound by conservatism and process.  That’s an incendiary thought because of what it means for competition.
  3. Innovation can’t be faked.  It comes out of fun, interest and obsession.  Like any right-brain process it’s unpredictable and isn’t confined to 9-5 thinking.  People doing what they love will win in this particular game.

I can guarantee that I won’t be spending much more on SEO.  Watch this space…

About Simon Kirby

Digital strategist, CX advisor and agile Product Owner. My core expertise is aligning the political, strategic and human factors that determine the success of digital, CX and innovation projects. Doing that helps organisations deliver better experiences, happier customers, distinctive propositions and improved commercial bottom-line

One Response to The Attention Arms Race

  1. Recommendations (which you drive from being innovative PLUS responsive) are the best way to compete in a global environment. Ask yourself: why SHOULD you be rated highly in a market against hundreds of thousands of direct competitors?

    One of the tricks is to compete in a niche area if you can. And that’s one area that size doesn’t necessarily matter. If you can be smart about what your customers/visitors might be searching for, you can grab traffic that others might not. The infamous “long tail” of search.

    But ultimately, all of this boils down to one thing. DIFFERENTIATE yourself. :)

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