Associate Member Viewpoint: Distributor Marketing and Innovation in the Attention Economy

By Bill Carter

CEO, Edge Media Systems

Distributor Marketing and Innovation in the Attention Economy

Attention economics is based on the idea that each person’s conscious awareness is a finite commodity. And that makes sense. We only have so much time during the day. And our attention is consumed by hundreds of inputs. Phones, work, family, friends, emails, news, sporting events. Everything that enters our consciousness. This “attention scarcity” creates fierce competition so distributors and brands should prioritize advertising methods that garner the most consumer attention.

The acronym “AIDA” denotes traditional advertising’s linear progression:

Attention → Interest → Desire → Action

Advertising methods differ by medium, and some methods are more effective than others at capturing attention and driving action, i.e., a sale. Creative content can also draw attention, but innovative methods of advertising are an equally important means of attention capture.

The Attention Economy: Bars and Restaurants

For years, distributor brand advertising in bars has remained largely unchanged. Traditional methods include placement of logos, product images and national campaign tie-ins on coasters, posters, neon signs, table tents, tap handles, menus, shirts, hats etc.

However, two major changes impacted the bar environment and the effectiveness of these traditional methods of advertising. In 2007, Apple launched the first iPhone. Rapid advances in screen quality and apps drove a significant share of consumer attention to phones. Second, in 2007, prices for 40+ inch “liquid crystal display” (“LCD”) flatscreen TVs reached a point where deployment in bars and restaurants became more feasible. Since 2008, placement of flatscreen TVs in bars and restaurants has grown steadily. Restaurants (sports bars) deployed flatscreen TVs to broadcast sports and attract “out of home” consumers. In 2015, Buffalo Wild Wings was recognized as an “early adopter” of flatscreen TVs and utilized them in their restaurants to broadcast mainly sports.

Today, flatscreen TVs are common in bars and restaurants as part of an immersive experience and a great way to enjoy a beer and watch sports with friends. Consumption of TV content outside the home is growing. Nielsen now tracks ratings for the “out of home” viewing segment. “Despite a temporary setback due to COVID, out of home viewing, especially sports, continues to grow in popularity” said Bill Carter, CEO of Edge Media Systems.

So, if that’s what changed… What didn’t change? Traditional forms of distributor advertising. Traditional methods now compete with broadcast content on flatscreen TVs for consumer attention. Coasters and posters are fighting a losing battle for attention with professional sports, collegiate sports, the Olympics and other TV content. In marketing parlance, this means declining return on ad spend (“ROAS”) for a distributor’s traditional methods brand advertising.

The PROBLEM in a nutshell: How do distributors maximize bar and restaurant ROAS, capture consumer attention and influence customer purchase behavior in environments full of flatscreen TVs?

Innovative Solutions

Edge Media Systems invites you to visit to learn more about how companies are finding new ways to maximize ROAS in the attention economy. “Getting ads where the eyes are is our mantra. Too many existing advertising methods are competing with flatscreen TV content for consumer attention.” Carter says. Leveraging consumer attention already aggregated by TV content without advertising on TV is the key. And so long as competition for attention exists solutions that optimally position brand promotion and action messaging and that leverage flatscreen TV content rather than compete with it are the key to improving brand awareness and sales.

For more information about Edge Media Systems simple, low-cost ad platform, see: or email