“A” for Effort

Let me return to the challenge of getting and keeping attention by pointing to what consultant John Hagel calls the three “As” of attention: attract customers, assist them to purchase your wares, and affiliate them in ways that make them your allies. You can read a little more about his ideas in a post by Christopher Carfi. Here are one or two of my recent posts about what author Richard Lanham calls “The Economics of Attention.” As for the sunrise, well, anything to gain attention.

The Fourth A: Extending Hagel’s rubric the purpose of the three As is more often than not the desire to instigate some action — buy something, write your elected representative, sign up for a free newsletter, whatever. Toward that end Google is testing a cost-per-action advertisement. The Financial Times describes it thus:

“CPA networks, also known as affiliate marketing networks, let merchants sign up independent websites to help find new customers for their products or services. The website owner is typically paid only when a customer actually makes a purchase, or when they perform some other pre-determined action such as filling in a form on the merchant’s site with their personal details.”

Mediapost offers another version of the same story.

Easier said than done: Web media is all about distributed action, putting together scattered bits and pieces to make some new whole (an idea well-articulated in Dave Weinberger’s book, “Small Pieces, Loosely Joined). In that regard I recently pointed to Eric Kavanagh’s notion of “citizen auditors” who would collectively scour public or corporate records. I emailed Kavanagh to ask whether he knew of examples of this notion being put into action. The short answer appears to be no. Eric e-mailed me one or two links where similar ideas had been discussed. He also pointed to a non-profit in Tennessee that mentioned audits in connection with its open government mission. Separately, I recently mentioned a group that was trying to organize volunteers to scour the records of prisoners being held at Guantanamo. The effort was publicized in a Wired News article. I subsequently emailed the person who I thought to be the organizer to see what had come of the effort but I’ve gotten no reply. (Here is the link to the project but I see no updates in a year.) It is very difficult to sustain volunteer interest. Maybe the effort fizzled?