Rivals for Attention: How Competition for Scarce Time Drove the Web Revolution, What it Means for the Mobile Revolution, and the Future of Advertising

22 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2014  

David S. Evans

Global Economics Group; University College London

Date Written: February 1, 2014

Abstract

Most online businesses try to get the attention of people and then sell advertisers access to that attention. The scarcity of attention — there’s only 24 hours in a day and much of that is spoken for — results in intense competition for people’s time and incentives to develop creative ways to people’s attention. Competition for attention helps explain how the web-based ecosystem has evolved over the last two decades and why ostensibly different companies see themselves in mortal combat. This paper describes this “attention market” and what it means for the past, present, and future of online competition.

Keywords: online advertising, attention, attention markets, web economy, multi-sided platforms, advertising, online competition, internet platforms

JEL Classification: L10, L12, L14, L21, L22, L25, L26, L41, N8

Suggested Citation

Evans, David S., Rivals for Attention: How Competition for Scarce Time Drove the Web Revolution, What it Means for the Mobile Revolution, and the Future of Advertising (February 1, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2391833 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2391833

David S. Evans (Contact Author)

Global Economics Group ( email )

111 Devonshire St.
Suite 900
Boston, MA 02108
United States

University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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