Instagram and its role in the Attention Economy

By WePlay Technology, WePlay Comments Off on Instagram and its role in the Attention Economy

Social networks are changing the way that major sporting events are being consumed. Ok, so tell us something new.

Facebook, in particular, has continued to evolve its offering, with features ranging from community groups and in-platform apps, to their Chat Messenger and of course Business Pages, all of which bring Rights Holders, brands and sporting personalities closer to the audience – and thus impact on the audiences’ behaviours.

The growth of mobile Internet penetration (currently there are 40.3 million mobile internet users in the UK) and the breadth of apps available in the respective app stores, adds further depth to the relationship that can foster between fans and their favourite brands in sport.

The Attention Economy

We have discussed the idea of ‘The Attention Economy’ in previous articles and with these trends continuing to climb, the currency of fan attention (that all brands including rights holders crave), is now both easier and harder to capture – simply because sporting organisations, are competing with every other brand, across every single platform and channel, at all times.

Money goes where people go – where there is an audience, advertisers are eager to follow. 

The Attention Economy allows us to measure where the eyeballs of your target audience are headed. This is simplified into this – if the eyeballs are going somewhere, then you can guarantee that this is where business has to go. Money goes where people go – where there is an audience, advertisers are eager to follow.

A football club once would’ve claimed ownership of its fan base, but with social media platforms broadening the content and distribution landscape and at the same time fragmenting the traditional media model, target audiences are now served entertaining content by such a wide variety of brand advertisers, that the relationship that these football fans once had with their primary club, has thinned out.

The level of loyalty between brand and fan has thinned out so much, that football fans now follow rival teams, rival team players and even rival team sponsors. Whether as part of the fantasy football culture, for entertainment or for trolling, audiences now fill their days with entertaining content from a plethora of sources. This, therefore means that the time they spend consuming content from any one brand is minimal and thus the ownership piece, no longer exists.

For many this is a problem, however, for those that understand the shift, this is a major opportunity to drive business growth.


The Attention Economy recognises this change in consumer attention. And the savviest of marketers are driving huge business growth because of it.


Based on the data and insight we derive from audience and conversion tracking pixels and through content audits, we are able to develop visualisations that present ‘ecosystems of activity’ on the core audience segments of our clients.

Below is an example that was developed for one client with the target audience of 16-25-year-old football fans. Through data analysis, we found that there were seven opportunities to engage the target audience in any given day. Seven opportunities to bid for audience attention across a multitude of channels, starting at a morning window of 7am-9am and running right through to an evening window of 8pm-10pm.

With insight like this to fuel a strategic operation, activation can be far more targeted. No need for a blanket approach, no wastage of media budget.


“The Attention Economy is biddable, tradable and up for grabs – to the highest bidder. That doesn’t mean the highest spender. It means the ones that win are the brands that understand the attention of the consumers and offer the strongest value proposition [product story, brand story, experience].”


So firstly, what are the new updates?

Since the acquisition of Instagram back in 2012, Facebook has continued to show its strengths at integrating its new asset. With what started with native viewing into Facebook, followed with a clever commercial ad play, has now evolved again, with two new updates, Live Videos and a Snapchat-esque disappearing media feature.

As with all new announcements, Nostradamus types the world over are predicting the impact that these new features will have on the world we live in. So it would be kind of rude for us not throw our hat into the ring and speculate the impact that these features will have in the sports marketing sector.

Instagram has announced the introduction of two features – live videos and media (photos and videos) that disappears, very much like their rivals Snapchat and Twitter (Periscope). Furthermore, Instagram has copied Snapchat with its screen-capture notification feature, where users will now know if their followers are taking screen captures of their photos.

Live video explained

Disappearing photos and videos for groups and friends in Instagram Direct explained 

Statistics reveal that photo and video sharing are the most popular activities on social media globally. With 400 million Instagram users and 150 million Snapchat users, the new updates will add weight to Instagram’s growth strategy.

Instagram has 14 million users in the United Kingdom and these users will now be able to consume live video and more importantly, unique content, enabling fans to get a closer look into the lives of their teams and athletes.

Opportunities for sponsors and brands

We believe that brands associated with sports can be the biggest beneficiaries of the new Instagram updates. Brands want new avenues to reach and engage audiences, and the new and improved Instagram will provide them with direct engagement opportunities. The ‘attention’ as explained in the ‘attention economy’ is firmly with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, therefore it makes perfect sense for sponsors to extend their activation through features such as Instagram Live (and Facebook Live for that matter). For brands that own their own media, it goes without saying that now is the time to take advantage of this rich media vertical.

Adidas, for example, have been actively engaging fans globally with exclusive video content shared via their hyper-connected influencers. So far, they have been engaging through dark channels like instant messengers, but with the new Instagram updates, it will be possible to explore newer engaging content, which can be tracked and measured.

Opportunities for athletes

A major reason why channels like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook Live are experiencing tremendous growth in active users, is because they all allow the audience to feel closer to their favourite athletes.

The new Instagram Live video feature will also extend the media value that athletes can generate through digital. Providing that they are creative with their executions (many won’t be), we will begin to see a wealth of content and engagement experience being created solely through this new feature.

 To find out more about Instagram’s latest features and the opportunities they present for your brand, drop us a line –

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