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Attention marketing is the term, coined by internet entrepreneur Steve Jelley, founder and former CEO of Videojuicer, to describe a particular business model that has evolved around the growth of social media on the internet.
The phenomenon is an extension of Lead generation, which describes the generation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. Traditionally, businesses have generated customer leads using the techniques of Internet marketing, such as search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, email marketing, and mobile advertising.
Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, by contrast, do not rely on these tools to generate user attention. User-generated content makes up the majority content on these sites; users therefore view content on the sites according to what interests them most. This behaviour collapses the traditional barriers between content, distribution and marketing, as any activity on a social media site effectively achieves all these three functions simultaneously.
Business opportunity 
Rather than interrupting users' attention in order to market to them, the business opportunity available to social media, Jelley maintains, is "in capturing people’s attention and channelling this attention to an appropriate vendor when it presents itself as a genuine desire to buy."
Previously, it was very difficult and expensive for business to market themselves on anything other than a mass, or broadcast basis. Targeting messages to individuals, at any kind of effective scale, was all but impossible. But social media has changed that. By using social media channels to target according to users' attention, business and other organisations can make their messages far more relevant and appropriate to individual consumers.
For businesses to suddenly shift commercial focus from the mass attention of a broad audience to the particular attention of individuals, however, requires a complete change of corporate mindset. Inside media and marketing organisations, content production, distribution and marketing have traditionally occupied different - and usually warring - silos. Because of the intimate connection between the content and the opportunity to create a lead, however, attention marketing necessarily collapses these silos and brings them together.
- Flint, James (12 March 2012). "Attention marketing, the real social revolution". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- Constine, Josh. "Facebook Ads Can Now Be Optimized To Drive Any On-Facebook Action, Such As In-App Purchases, Shares, Offer Claims". TechCrunch. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Srinivasan, Rags. "How much does Pinterest actually make?". GigaOm. Retrieved 23 April 2012.