Attention economics becomes another skill to master

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How publishers can manage the emerging platform-influenced economics of attention to grow audience and revenue is the focus of a new INMA report.

How newsmedia wins in the attention economy examines platform dependency and attention revenue, the value of attention, and the costs of acquiring and retaining attention.

The report synthesises the research of Merja Myllylahti, a lecturer and researcher at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she serves as project manager for AUT's Journalism, Media, and Democracy Centre.

One key takeaway is that social media attention has short-term benefits such as driving traffic and subscriptions, yet that attention is not creating much revenue, and publishers have become dependent on those social media platforms despite risks.

Myllylahti also points to the lack of proper valuation models in the news industry for attention revenue, and the dire consequences of unreliable attention metrics from platform companies.

Platform subscription services may generate subscription growth, yet that comes with rising costs, and as news companies focus more on subscriber retention than acquisition, attention becomes a vital piece of the puzzle.

Myllylahti says there are opportunities for news companies and platforms to cooperate on news distribution and attention monetization, and asks if Facebook and Google are "unavoidable partners" for news media companies, whether there is a road map publishers should explore to better secure their future readers and revenue in partnership with the platforms.

"The report raises as many questions as it answers, yet they are questions that media leaders and platform leaders are asking of themselves and each other," INMA executive director and chief executive Earl Wilkinson says. "Cutting through all potential metrics of success, Dr Myllylahti asks the blunt question of 'What revenue is left after all the costs associated with harvesting and monetising attention have been met'.

The report is free to INMA members and costs US$795to non-members, including a year of membership and associated reports and webinars.

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