Markets for Attention: Will Postage for Email Help?

12 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2002  

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Robert E. Kraut

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business; Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science

James Morris

Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Darrin Filer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Matthew A. Cronin

George Mason University - School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2002

Abstract

Balancing the needs of information distributors and their audiences has grown harder in the age of the Internet. While the demand for attention continues to increase rapidly with the volume of information and communication, the supply of human attention is relatively fixed. Markets are a social institution for efficiently balancing supply and demand of scarce resources. Charging a price for sending messages may help discipline senders from demanding more attention than they are willing to pay for. Price may also help recipients estimate the value of a message before reading it. We report the results of two laboratory experiments to explore the consequences of a pricing system for electronic mail. Charging postage for email causes senders to be more selective and send fewer messages. However, recipients did not use the postage paid by senders as a signal of importance. These studies suggest markets for attention have potential, but their design needs more work.

Keywords: Computer Mediated Communication, Electronic Mail, Empirical Studies, Economics, Markets, Social Impact, Spam

JEL Classification: D40, L86, L96, M21

Suggested Citation

Sunder, Shyam and Kraut, Robert E. and Morris, James and Telang, Rahul and Filer, Darrin and Cronin, Matthew A., Markets for Attention: Will Postage for Email Help? (August 2002). Yale ICF Working Paper No. 02-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=325961 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.325961

Shyam Sunder (Contact Author)

Yale University - School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6160 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.som.yale.edu/faculty/sunder/

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Robert E. Kraut

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-7694 (Phone)
412-268-1266 (Fax)

Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

James H. Morris

Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States
412-268-2574 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~jhm/

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

4800 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-1155 (Phone)

Darrin Filer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Matthew A. Cronin

George Mason University - School of Management ( email )

Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
312
Rank
77,779
Abstract Views
7,528