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Competition for attention in the Information (overload) Age


  • Simon P. Anderson
  • André de Palma


Limited consumer attention limits product market competition: prices are stochastically lower the more attention is paid. Ads compete to be the lowest price in a sector but compete for attention with ads from other sectors: equilibrium ad shares follow a CES form. When a sector gets more proÞtable, its advertising expands: others lose ad market share. The "information hump" shows highest ad levels for intermediate attention levels. The Information Age takes off when the number of viable sectors grows, but total ad volume reaches an upper limit. Overall, advertising is excessive, though the allocation across sectors is optimal.
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Suggested Citation

  • Simon P. Anderson & André de Palma, 2012. "Competition for attention in the Information (overload) Age," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(1), pages 1-25, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:43:y:2012:i:1:p:1-25 DOI: j.1756-2171.2011.00155.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Josef Falkinger, 2008. "A welfare analysis of "junk" information and spam filters," SOI - Working Papers 0811, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    2. Stegeman, Mark, 1991. "Advertising in Competitive Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 210-223, March.
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    4. Avinash Dixit & Victor Norman, 1978. "Advertising and Welfare," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
    5. Timothy Van Zandt, 2004. "Information Overload in a Network of Targeted Communication," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(3), pages 542-560, Autumn.
    6. Simon P. Anderson & André de Palma, 2009. "Information congestion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 688-709.
    7. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
    8. Baye, Michael R. & Morgan, John, 2002. "Information gatekeepers and price discrimination on the internet," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 47-51, June.
    9. Carl Shapiro, 1980. "Advertising and Welfare: Comment," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 749-752, Autumn.
    10. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
    11. Gerard R. Butters, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 465-491.
    12. Bagwell, Kyle, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Advertising," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Larbi Alaoui & Fabrizio Germano, 2012. "Time scarcity and the market for news," Economics Working Papers 1348, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2014.
    2. Florian Hoffmann & Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2013. "Hypertargeting, Limited Attention, and Privacy: Implications for Marketing and Campaigning," Working Papers 479, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    3. Simon P. Anderson & André de Palma, 2009. "Information congestion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 688-709.
    4. Budzinski, Oliver, 2017. "Wettbewerbsregeln für das Digitale Zeitalter - Die Ökonomik personalisierter Daten, Verbraucherschutz und die 9. GWB-Novelle," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 108, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
    5. Chiao, Benjamin & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey, 2012. "Using uncensored communication channels to divert spam traffic," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 173-186.
    6. Yuk Ying Chang & Martin Young, 2015. "Dissipative Competition: Evidence from a Quasi-Natural Experiment," International Review of Finance, International Review of Finance Ltd., vol. 15(2), pages 169-198, June.
    7. Budzinski, Oliver & Grusevaja, Marina, 2017. "Die Medienökonomik personalisierter Daten und der Facebook-Fall," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 107, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
    8. Alessandro Acquisti & Curtis Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2016. "The Economics of Privacy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 442-492, June.
    9. Hartmut Egger & Josef Falkinger, 2016. "Limited Consumer Attention in International Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 1096-1128, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets


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