The Center of Attention podcast is for anyone with (or in) an online audience who wants to understand how their digital behavior relates to the attention economy at large.

By questioning data from multiple perspectives, co-founders and hosts Sachin Kamdar and Andrew Montalenti attempt to illuminate what we’re really paying attention to.

  • Episode 21: Media industry takeaways and trends in 2018

    December 19, 2018

    It’s year in review time! Sachin and Andrew share their takeaways from the media industry in 2018 (the importance of trust and the power of movements), worst trends (the infamous video pivot and also movements again), and predictions for 2019 (building companies that endure and diversifying traffic and revenue).

    Plus, they talk about some of their favorite content and entertainment from 2018, from multimedia reporting to books on physics, and go +1/-1 on whether certain technologies will transform the media industry in 2019.

    Subscribe to The Center of Attention on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.

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  • Episode 20: Why audience engagement helps journalists find job satisfaction, with Community Impact Newspaper

    November 20, 2018

    Earlier in his career, Matt Dulin, an editor at the Community Impact Newspaper, experienced a shift in the nature of his work. “Journalism jobs have inadvertently been redesigned, just through necessity,” Matt said. When conducting research at the Missouri School of Journalism, he was inspired to study one of the factors related to that change: audience engagement.

    Matt set out to learn whether journalists who practiced audience engagement—defined as using analytics or social media as part of your job—had higher job satisfaction. Turns out, audience engagement helped people find meaning in their work.

    Matt joins us to discuss what he learned from his research, why there’s a link between feedback and job satisfaction, and how audience engagement creates a positive feedback loop. Sachin and Andrew talk about how they define audience engagement and why feedback from data is so important. Plus, they go +1/-1 on common (and maybe thankfully not-so-common) jargon words.

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  • Episode 19: Why we need to think about email as community, with Quartz

    November 6, 2018

    If your inbox is anything like ours, it’s a crowded space but an important one. Email can provide an asynchronous, personal, and curated experience in an environment that offers publishers a degree of control and experimentation. But how do you make your newsletter stand out? Eva Scazzero, Product Manager at Quartz, does it by treating email as a way to build community. “We try the best we can to make it a two way street,” she says of Quartz’s Obsession newsletter, which takes a deep dive into a different topic every day.

    In the first year, 10,000 individual people wrote in a response to Obsession. Eva talks with us about building reader engagement through email, the first time a reader response made it into a newsletter, and how the constraints of email actually afford opportunities for creativity. Sachin and Andrew discuss the importance of email and user feedback and go +1/-1 on things they’re nostalgic about, like AIM and Blockbuster.

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  • Episode 18: Why reader support is not about the tote bags, with Billy Penn

    October 23, 2018

    Organizations are increasingly looking to reader support as a primary revenue stream. In an analysis of almost 2000 domains in our network, 29% of those sites had some kind of paywall. While paywalls are one option for reader revenue, they aren’t the only one. Danya Henninger, Editor at Billy Penn, explains their membership philosophy of going directly to readers for support. “The message for our membership program is that we care about you, each individual person who reads our stories. We care what you think about us and about how we report,” Danya said. “And we want your feedback.”

    Danya talks with us about the channels where Billy Penn connects with readers, the role newsletters play in building loyalty, and how the “returning visitors” metric connects to membership potential. Sachin and Andrew discuss the efficacy of paywalls, their perspectives on reader revenue as company founders, and how it ultimately comes down to forging relationships. Plus, they go +1/-1 on reader support methods and membership perks.

    See the full show notes

  • Episode 17: Why is growth in time spent with digital media slowing? with eMarketer

    October 9, 2018

    Nicole Perrin, Senior Analyst at eMarketer, gets a lot of “peak X” questions. We spoke with Nicole about data illustrating peaks and plateaus in the amount time people are projected to spend with digital media in a day (while multitasking). “We’re expecting that time with digital is going to grow about 4% this year, and then about 3% next year, and then about 2% in 2020,” Nicole said.

    There’s still growth in digital media consumption, but the rate of growth is declining. What does peak digital consumption look like in terms of our attention for different mediums? How would a plateau in time spent impact content creators? What happens as we approach peak app usage? Sachin and Andrew discuss how smartphones factor into growth in digital media consumption and the different modes we’re in when using devices. Plus, they go +1 / -1 on apps versus the mobile web.

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  • Episode 16: Why we shouldn’t be cheering for Facebook’s downfall, with Axios

    October 9, 2018

    From data privacy to fake news to fluctuations in traffic to publishers, Facebook is a complicated topic. From the point of view of publishers, the media, and content creators, are we taking into account exactly how complicated? Sara Fischer, Media Reporter at Axios, joined us to discuss why it’s worthwhile to look at Facebook from multiple perspectives, both in the context of the attention economy and the wider, global economy. “I think at the end of the day they’re an American company and it’s important that we understand the power of the technology and we don’t rush to dismiss it,” she said.

    Sachin and Andrew discuss origins of negative attitudes towards Facebook, differences in how the company sees itself internally compared to how users view it, and how traffic to publishers complicates the picture even more. Plus, they go +1/-1 on D2C companies.

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  • Episode 15: One Week in Data // “You got about as much sports analysis as you can get out of me.”

    July 11, 2018

    Sachin and Andrew consider a single week, June 18 – June 25, and see what data suggests about the stories that held people’s attention. Immigration news captivated audiences, especially through social media and editorial coverage, and tech and sports stories also surfaced amid the politics noise. Plus: +1/-1 on a new co-founder fitness bet,  AT&T acquires Time Warner, and office dogs.

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  • Episode 14: Discovery vs. Search: 2018 Edition // “There are all these different little niches of content."

    June 19, 2018

    Sachin and Andrew dig into how major traffic sources to content differ depending on what it’s about. People’s interests lead them to niches of content on platforms beyond Google and Facebook. Plus: +1/-1 on Facebook trending topics and GitHub.

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  • Episode 13: This Data Will Make You Hungry, with HelloFresh // “It feeds our entire network—no pun intended.”

    June 5, 2018

    Sachin and Andrew hear how data informs audience understanding for HelloFresh copywriter Jacqueline Parisi and discuss overarching food and drink content trends. Plus: +1/-1 on changes to Google News and Twitter.

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  • Episode 12: Stories that Matter to Millennials, with Flipboard // “They want to engage in the world.”

    May 22, 2018

    Sachin and Andrew discuss data presented by Flipboard’s Managing Editor, Gabriella Schwarz, who investigated how millennials consume and engage with news. Plus: +1/-1 on algorithmic and editorial news curation.

    See the full show notes

  • Episode 11: GDPR Q&A // “The privacy reckoning.”

    May 8, 2018

    Andrew responds to a Q&A about GDPR, explaining how it might affect tech and media and what businesses should keep in mind as they prepare to comply.

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  • Episode 10: Out of the AI Winter // “We’re not going to have machine-humans any time soon”

    April 17, 2018

    Sachin and Andrew discuss AI with Matt Carrigan, a machine learning engineer at AI is a rising field right now, but how exactly does machine learning relate what we pay attention to online? Plus: Cambridge Analytica and +1/-1 on flip phones.

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