They say ‘to the victor go the spoils.’ I say, ‘to the bold goes the victory,’ sometimes, at least.
I was very busy the past weekend surfing the waves, which in this case mostly meant watching soccer games on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the best action was in the Barclays Premier League, and the best game to follow (and record) was Arsenal v Sunderland. Arsenal are a big, relatively rich club, with a global fan base, a handful of stars on the squad. I was hoping a number of those stars – or even one – would perform well enough for me to make a video devoted to them for my YT channel. I was thoroughly disappointed, however, when the game ended 0 -0 and ended any real chance that the result would generate any high interest from the public. Riding the attention wave is a gamble, and I had lost out in this instance.
Sunday was much better. There were a number of matches involving high profile teams from across Europe playing on Sunday, like Manchester City (Premier League Champs); Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid ; and the newly-rich Paris Saint-Germain – PSG for short – in the French Ligue 1.
I had mentioned that I would be conducting an experiment of sorts, focusing on the latter club aforementioned PSG. The experiment would essentially be a test as to the value of ‘short wave’ attention scamming, versus ‘long wave’ attention scamming. One is probably asking, ‘what the hell do these terms mean?’ So, I will explain:
A ‘short wave’ attention scam is any sort of content – blog post, Youtube video, tweet, etc – whose purpose is to take full advantage of an event that occurs, and is expected to be irrelevant in a short period of time. Here’s a look at today’s Google Trends:
Darla Moore (whoever that is) and Condoleeza Rice, are now the first two female members of Augusta, a golf club (I think). It’s trending right now, but nobody will care about this tomorrow, trust me. This is a short attention wave, and thus anyone piggybacking on this wave is performing a ‘short wave’ attention scam, like the tweeters below:
Short wave attention scammers chase content, scanning news and gossip website constantly, looking for some sort of breaking attention waves they can attach themselves to. Take a look at some of the work of Youtuber ‘John Doe’ ( original name,that ):
John Doe is a ‘short wave’ attention scammer. He uses a strategy known as racing to bring attention to his YT channel. What he does is follow (scan) various sporting events (mostly soccer from the looks of it, though that could change), looking for events he thinks people will be searching for at some point after they happen. He will then record and upload these events right away, hoping to be the first Youtuber with a video related to said event, thus holding a temporary monopoly on any attention it gets.
As one can see, this strategy produces mixed results. Most of ‘John Doe’s’ videos are incredibly short, but his upload rate is very high. And, to be fair, he has somehow gotten over 160 people to subscribe to his channel, after only 2 months of producing content. That’s not bad, but I am interested to see whether or not John Doe can keep up this pace of short wave scamming. I doubt it. Why?
Because his scams are cheap, and cheap scams are eventually found out.
Cheap attention scams are lazy. They try to utilize speed to their advantage, racing everyone else in the attention-sphere to be the first to break a wave on whatever medium they are active in. A quick link and hashtag on Twitter; a series of 15 second videos on Youtube; blog posts copied-and-pasted in entirety from another website. Those shenanigans are the bread-and-butter of the short-wave scammer.
‘Long wave’ attention scamming is much more complex, and requires a higher degree of skill/savvy to make it work. There is still a fair degree of luck involved in long scamming, but also a lot more control. The goal of the long wave scam is to build up a fan alignment through a show of unique insight into a particular attention wave, coupled with a dedication to stay with the wave for a fairly long duration. Long waves require much more investment on the part of the attention scammer.
I chose the ‘blog’ medium for my Paris Saint-Germain attention scam, for two reasons: Blogs are often exclusive (how many other people are writing about the Attention economy in the same way that I am?), and blogs take time (dedication) to build. exclusivity.
‘PSG, Oui’, the name I chose for the blog, is somewhat clever, and easy to type into a Google search box (names being a huge part of recognition). The blog will mostly contain video clips of – hopefully – every match PSG plays this season, with maybe some theme based on my interpretation of the game’s most important aspects.
This past weekend, PSG played badly, and failed to score against a team – Corsican club, Ajacci0 – they were expected to beat easily. To make matters worse, PSG had one of its star players – Ezequiel Lavezzi – kicked out of the match, a fate that would befall their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, later in the game. The match was a bit of farce, with big-spending PSG playing the part of ‘clowns’ in this drama; the super-rich club from fashionable Paris, coming into lowly Ajaccio, Corsica, and coming apart at the seams.
At the end of the game (which I had recorded) I sat back and tried to frame in my mind the way I wanted to present the video for sharing. I decided the theme would be ‘ PSG play like crap against Ajaccio’. This would be the long wave scam, set for sharing on my blog related to the club: a personalized highlight reel of PSG’s folly.
The match also provided an opportunity for a short wave attention scam: the red card for Lavezzi, and Carlo Ancelotti’s ridiculous banishment to the stands for kicking a water bottle onto the field. A Video such as this would be perfect for my YT channel, easy to cut, upload, and bask in whatever attention the videos could generate.
I have said previously that Youtube encourages cheap attention scamming: relatively short, to-the-point videos that can be consumed and then mostly forgotten about. But, all cheap scams are not created equal. These are some of the short wave scams that were uploaded during Barcelona’s 5-1 dismantling of Real Sociedad this past Sunday, related to searches for ‘Messi’:
As one can see, there are many people hip to the notion of piggybacking on Lionel Messi’s performances for Barcelona. Messi is the most popular soccer player in the world, and his club – Barcelona – the most popular club in the world. Lionel Messi is therefore almost irresistible for one looking for an attention wave to ride.
But an aspiring attention scammer would be wise to take a second guess before deciding to hitch their wagon to Lionel Messi’s popularity, because there is already a glut of scammers piggybacking on his fame. The above screenshots are only about one – quarter of the Messi-related results (sorted by upload date) that were uploaded while the match was still ongoing. A close look at the view-count reveals that the majority of the above videos did not generate much attention at all, ranging from zero to less-than-ten views. Lionel Messi is a tough wave to ride nowadays, since anyone doing so – successfully – has likely been doing it for a while at this point. There is no room for newcomers.
It would thus behoove an aspiring attention scammer to look elsewhere for waves to piggyback on. This is what led me to single-out Paris Saint-Germain as a promising attention wave to ride. The club has previously flown ‘under the radar’ in the world of European football, playing in the unfashionable French Ligue, and boasting no global superstars. That all changed two years ago, when the club were infused with cash from Qatari investors, who have bought more and more star players to the club, and thus more success ( and attention) to the club.
PSG are on the therefore ‘on the rise’ in terms of attention the club will get in the near future. Recognizing this, however, requires one to think a bit more creatively, and accurately anticipate a wave that is worthwhile to invest one’s energy in piggybacking, for a payoff that won’t be immediate. This is the nature of ‘long wave’ attention scamming.
And it paid off pretty nicely for me with my video showing the PSG player and coach being ejected:
There were only a handful of videos uploaded to Youtube concerning the Lavezzi red card, my video being one of them. This is the opposite of what one sees with the searches of ‘Messi’ above. If one looks at the screenshots closely, it is obvious that at least four of the videos uploaded are the exact same video – gleaned from the runtime and thumbnail shot. This is a very common scam one sees on Youtube: piggbacking the piggybackers. My upload is the only one that is 3 minutes long, and showing both the player and manager being kicked out of the game. I’m proud of this, because it means that of all those who rode this wave, I was able to provide a unique service to those consuming it. I say this not to toot my own horn (my video’s 1700 views pale in comparison to Yotuber ivaniksa’s 17,000), but to point out the potential value in daring to be different when seeking attention through various attention-sphere media.
And daring to be different often times requires that one make a bold – perhaps even laughably unpopular – move, and not take the seemingly-surefire approach to attention scamming. This is because the attention-sphere is ever-changing, always shifting. Thus, what may look like a lucrative attention wave right now, could actually be in decline, and could be quite useless for piggybacking in the near future. Many attention waves that are popular right now are, in fact, sucker’s bets………