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The Attention Economy Part 1

The Attention Economy Part 1

By Qasim Zahid



‘Controversy is Cash’

Who remembers pro wrestling’s Attitude Era? In the late 90’s, nothing else mattered. It was like watching a football derby game every week. 15 million people (on average) would tune in to watch Stone Cold, The Rock, Vince McMahon. Content was mature. There were bikini fights. Wrestlers were put through tables lit on fire. Scandals. Intrigue. Extreme Violence. It influenced an entire generation of men and women.

I hadn’t even reached 10, but I couldn’t miss a single episode.

Want to know how they did it?


When Eric Bischoff, who was a key writer for the WWF at the time, was asked to explain why their programming always chose to push the boundaries of polite society. He replied:

‘Controversy is Cash’

And he was right, not just 20 years ago, but especially in today’s age. When Bischoff was talking about controversey, he meant attention. Yes, the content was edgy but it got attention. It served a purpose for it’s industry and audience. As long as people watched, WWF made billions.

The point being, attention, either good or bad, is the only thing a brand/business has to differentiate itself. Think about it. Kids with no talent make millions ‘blogging’ on the Internet or dancing to Tiktok videos. They get attention and then they monetise it, extremely well. Businesses need to play smart and catch up.

I won’t delve in to the ‘bad’. We should focus on the good, whilst staying on the edge of controversy, when applicable. Only a small contingent of businesses can get away with bad attention. You’re not the WWF.

How can you take advantage of this new economy? Here are some tips:

Don’t be afraid to do something different. This could be anything. Do you need to run a marathon wearing a costume? Just an idea. Make sure that whatever you do you get eyeballs on the product. Think more Bernardo, less 4 Lions.
Write catchy content. Make sure to write something that people will enjoy to read. Address topics that everyone wants to talk or know about. Don’t be afraid to push the boat.
Take it to video. Next time you’re thinking of an idea to promote your business, think about video. How can you utilise YouTube or social media to grab someone’s attention. People don’t have the time to sit and read anymore. We’re all impatient. Now, now, now. Video is far easier.

These are just a few tricks that I would employ.

There is still much for us to go through. That will be reserved for the next edition of The Attention Economy!

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Qas Zahid

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