Investing In Attention

A few weeks ago LinkedIn went public and was valued at $8.9 billion, which naturally garnered a lot of attention. The IPO was the Internet's largest since Google, and the added factor that LinkedIn as a social network is the first of its kind to go public led to a lot of interesting questions.

It's official. Social media has arrived, and LinkedIn is the first of many companies like Facebook, Groupon and Twitter to satisfy investors' yearning to invest in the latest evolution of the web.

The follow-up conversation has split in two different directions. First, is this for real, or is this another dot com bust? Second, what does this mean for marketers?

A Tech Bubble, This Is Not
LinkedIn is full of promise that didn't exist during the tech bubble of the late 1990's.

What differentiates it? For starters, LinkedIn has a user base. It's not selling the promise of users. They're already there.

LinkedIn has taken its user base to the next level by offering advertising opportunities, premium subscriptions and premium recruiting opportunities for businesses.

The point is that LinkedIn's promise is more than just a promise. It's reality. LinkedIn earns money, and it will earn more as it sees more growth in the future.

Perception of Value Is Changing
LinkedIn's IPO symbolizes more than just promise. It illustrates what marketers, platforms and content distributors already see or will soon see as valuable--attention. LinkedIn has earned attention (repeat users) and monetized them further with premium options.

This age is defined by fragmentation. Fragmented time, options and choices have in turn fragmented our attention. There's too much to focus on at any given moment, which means attention is a premium.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Groupon and others have already earned consumer attention. People go there, and they spend time there. Earning attention comes before investment takes place, and the more attention a platform earns, the more valuable it becomes.

Attention Deficit World
Supply and demand exists at the roots of economic infrastructure. Attention is a premium product, and we can expect to its value to increase as more marketers see fragmented behavior becoming the norm.