Sunday, May 25, 2014

The most valuable resource

Google recently overtook Apple as world’s most valuable brand for 2014, with a brand value of $158.5m vs. Apple’s $147.8m (link). It is arguably the most recognized company brand in today’s age, and certainly more valuable than Coca-Cola. And yet, I believe that if you ask someone today what it is they think Google sells, you will mostly likely get a wrong answer.

“What is Google’s main product?”

If your answer involved anything like “services” or “technology”, stop.

Because you are wrong.

To answer that question, we first need to take one step back and ask another question:

“Who are Google’s customers?”

Now, ‘users’ ≠ ‘customers’. We might use GMail, make our searches on and on our phones, but this does not make us Google’s customers. A customer is someone who pays money for goods and services; most of us haven’t paid a single dime to Google for the use of their services. (Incidentally, this is also true of Facebook and Twitter.)

While we might be the users, we are not the customers. Instead, Google’s main customers are the companies and businesses that pay for AdWords. Now, back to the original question:

“What is Google’s main product? What are they selling to their AdWord buyers?”

And the answer is our attention. Now note: not all attentions are created equal. One minute of your attention when your mind is actively engaged in searching for your car insurance is worth much more to a car insurance company than one minute of your time when surfing Facebook looking to catch up on your friends. And with its superior technology and algorithms, (as well as its physical infrastructures like its data centers spread throughout the globe), Google has become our go-to place for these intentional searches, which means that Google has our “high quality” attention at their disposal. The company with world’s most valuable brand is peddling that most valuable limited resource in today’s information age. In fact, the whole world is vying for our attention.

And because our attention is limited to ~15 hours a day (we spend a third of our days sleeping), “attention” has become the most sought-after resource. Companies are literally paying billions of dollars for a share of this invaluable resource.

What today’s tech-driven marketplace seems to understand is that whatever controls our attention and our minds, controls our wallets and lives.

As Christians, the above explains how it is that we live in a world full of distractions. Unless we make it our business to devote our time and attention to the Word and to prayer, we will just float along with the currents of this age, seeking after whatever entertains, whatever is easy, whatever is pleasing to the eye.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

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