There was an attention drought for the longest time. Marketers paid a fortune for TV ads (and in fact, network ads sold out months in advance) because it was so difficult to find enough attention. Ads worked, so the more ads you bought, the more money you made, thus marketers took all they could get.
This attention shortage drove our economy.
The internet has done something wacky to this situation. It has created a surplus of attention. Ads go unsold. People are spending hours on YouTube or Twitter or Facebook or other sites and not spending their attention on ads, because the ads are either absent or not worth watching.
When people talk about the problem with free online, they’re missing the point. Free is creating lots of attention, but marketers haven’t gotten smart enough to do something profitable with that attention…
Big companies, non-profits and even candidates will discover hyperlocal, hyperspecialized, hyperrelevant… this is where we are going, and it turns out that this time, the media is way ahead of the marketers.