Business programme

Attention Markets: Competing for Consumer Time

05 Jun , 12:00–13:15
New Technology Frontiers
Congress Centre, conference hall B3

In 2019, a new tool for tracking screen time was introduced to smartphone operating systems. Disheartened users were able to monitor the continuous growth of their screen additions, something the pandemic has only exacerbated. Today, the average resident of a developed country looks at their mobile device for over 4 hours a day, while overall screen time accounts for more than 8 hours. Our digital devices have become Trojan horses, allowing the captains of the digital economy to conquer our attention. Controlling how people spend their time is a key factor in the success of digital ecosystems. The algorithms used to do this, which analyse consumer preferences and select which content to display, are often misunderstood by regulators and consumers alike. Even now, governments often adopt the logic of the industrial economy, for example viewing market power exclusively as the share in the market for a given product. Competition today, however, revolves around strategies for controlling demand, namely the attention of consumers, rather than the dominance of different goods and services on the supply side. This transformation is defined by the concept of the ‘attention economy’. The entertainment industry is losing its status as an independent sector and is increasingly being incorporated into huge digital ecosystems. The wave of mergers and acquisitions covering all kinds of entertainment assets is driven in part by the desire of these ecosystems to strengthen their grip on consumer attention. Regulators are already faced with the question of whether it is now necessary to talk about the convergence of different markets into a single market for managing consumer attention. At the same time, several sectors in the new economy such as legacy media and the entertainment industry are already experiencing significant competitive pressure on the part of integrated digital giants, forcing regulators to grapple with the fresh challenge of ensuring fair competition in these new conditions. Should the government support the traditional entertainment industry or is it becoming an arbiter between the traditional industry and digital ecosystems? Should the algorithms used to control consumer attention be made transparent? Do we need a new set of rules to govern the provision of audiovisual services in the latest round of development of the market economy?

Aleksey Ivanov, Director, HSE - Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, International BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Svetlana Balanova, Chief Executive Officer, National Media Group
Petr Ivanov, Deputy Head, Federal Antimonopoly Service
Alexander Krainov, Director of AI Technology Development, Yandex
Ioannis Lianos, President, Hellenic Competition Commission (online)
Bjorn Lundqvist, Co-Director, European Economic LLM programme, Stockholm University (online)
Sergey Piskarev, President, Association of Communications Agencies of Russia
Elena Rovenskaya, Program Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Ruslan Tagiev, General Director, Mediascope
Aleksandr Khinshtein, Chairman of the Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications

Front row participants
Ettore Maria Lombardi, Professor of Private Law, University of Florence (School of Law), Florence, Italy
Velko Milutinovic, Director, Research Center "Balkan Dialogue"; Ex-commissioner, Competition Commission of Serbia