The Attention Wars

Now playing on a screen near you – The Attention Wars.

Some time ago I wrote a piece characterizing Microsoft’s offer to buy Yahoo as their attempt at reinforcing and fortifying the habits of computer users to remain on Microsoft owned property.

Not because Microsoft needed Yahoo for additional desktop market share but because Microsoft needed Yahoo’s search audience share and still does.

Why?

Microsoft doesn’t want to lose any more attention, audience or keystrokes to their now main strategic rival and desktop franchise threat – Google.

I also thought Microsoft’s offer was dubious at best – offering just enough money to get everybody’s attention including half Yahoo’s board of directors – but not enough in the end to cause Co-Founder Yang to surrender his baby.

The whole act was really a masterstroke on Microsoft’s behalf.

Because as we all now know, Yang was excommunicated for not agreeing to sell while Microsoft also got to add the latest chapter to their Embrace, Extend and Extinguish playbook.

I digress…

Anyway – as the web has matured every large internet property has become visitor retention focused – ie., motivated to retain what audience and attention they have.

Hence, the recent introductions of new web homepages for each of the three largest internet audience properties – Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

In case you hadn’t noticed, each property has recently introduced a more sticky homepage.

Google has introduced their “fading” home page.

Google Attention

Google Attention

No links are shown on the page until a user mouses over the links.

The Google home page links “fade in” only after a cursor moves onto the page.

This may not seem like much of a change, but over the course of a day and with it 100s of millions of users – the amount of additional time spent collectively by visitors on the Google home page will  increase.

Bing’s Home Page Picture

Bing Attention

Bing Attention

Even before Bing became Bing, Microsoft had added an eye catching image to their homepage with several pop up boxes throughout the image to capture and retain searchers attention.

I am not sure what direct branding effect this will have on the Bing brand, but it will definitely increase awareness and recall for each of the images featured on their home page.

Yahoo My Favorites

Yahoo Attention

Yahoo Attention

Yahoo moved “My Favorites” to their home page’s left rail in the hopes of both  increasing their users attention and keystrokes.

I suspect Yahoo’s efforts will achieve both.

Expect to see every media company with a screen presence whether on the world wide web, television or mobile phone going to ever greater lengths to try and capture the growing more elusive with each passing day audience’s attention.

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