In the 1990s there was discussion of the attention economy. It speculated that attention was becoming the most scarce and sought-after resource in the world and, therefore, might replace money as a form of currency.
The argument made in the offerbots project, however, is that attention does not have commercial value in and of itself. It has value because it is our one and only medium for making and receiving offers.
That is, a vendor doesn’t want your attention, they want your money. The only reason that a vendor wants your attention is so that you’ll receive, consider and accept their offer (of whatever they are selling) and give them your money (in exchange for whatever they’re selling).
In turn, the only reason that aggregators want your attention is to have a monopoly over this offer-making process. By manipulating the set of offers that they display to buyers, they can force vendors to pay the highest possible price to participate in trade with us (allowing aggregators to take vendors’ margins, efficiency and opportunities).
Offerbots are important because they will allow each of us to control our own attention and give it to the offers of our choice (not the offers of an aggregator’s choice).