Ben Young
Ben Young
October 20, 2023

Edition #421

Do we have limited attention buckets? What a ‘mature’ Substack looks like and Stackoverflow hit by AI.

Netflix price increases coming again, and I don’t think this is a problem for Netflix, their premium plan is coming up a little and their ad tier. The standard package remains the same. I think this is a problem for other streamers, whereby someone goes, oh, maybe we should cancel something else.

This week I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of write ups from Max Read and Mario Gabriele on how they grew their Substacks. It’s nice to see and hear what people are building towards.

I’ve been having this lingering thought, around time to complete a task. I shared an article a while back, around how most of us have about 44 seconds to do a task, before we interrupt it with another. Multi-tasking. Picking up the phone, swapping tabs, changing the song, pinging on Slack. And I think it does impact creativity, like Jorge goes into in his piece, we’re not lacking creativity, we’re overwhelmed!.

But so, when we think about attention, is more attention pre-click or post-click on an ad more valuable? I think it’s kind of zero sum, if you have more attention pre-click on an ad, you probably want the fulfillment of the experience post-click to be fast. DoubleVerify is partnering with Attain to get a better view on this. But also, if the attention pre-click is low, you feasibly have more attention post-click to explore/learn. If true, optimizing is about getting alignment about those two experiences, pre-click and post-click. That is, if ROI, efficiency and driving conversions is an objective.

We have limited attention buckets, we all need to collectively make the best use of them.

This year I’ve tried to carve more time for myself, no tv/movies during the week, to give me more time to potter, work on projects/research, read books. And it’s been great, I feel more energized. And not that watching tv is a bad thing, it’s that I would use that to unwind, rather than sit and physically unwind by doing things.

I’ve used Self Control app on Mac, or Freedom, to block social and/or other sites, so my phone use is more purposeful. And it only took a few weeks before I lost the habit.

With that being said, my digital time, is still victim to the same things I’ve talked about. It is for all of us. And I think this is what the advertising & media industry is kind of poking the box at, how do we drive success in that world. Finite attention, endless content, high interest rates, lesser targeting capabilities.

Notable stories this week

  • Steve Aoki has 25 different active brand sponsorships.
  • Threads is testing branded content tags in app.
  • TikTok scores sizable Disney deal, including a content hub and publisher partnership.
  • Substack lessons at 100,000 subscribers. And a similar take from Max Read.
  • ^ These are mega helpful for those considering the jump to the Substack economy.
  • Substack adding titles into OG images for Twitter sharing, now that the titles are gone.
  • Netflix to test single-title ad sponsorships.
  • Amazon looking for $100m commitments from advertisers on Prime Video.
  • How paid podcasts fit into The Economist’s subscription strategy.
  • Stackoverflow is seeing traffic decline from AI usage.
  • Adobe debuts ‘nutrition label’ icon for AI-generated imagery.
  • Google experiments with desktop discover feed.
  • Yahoo’s DSP is cutting out SSPS but only for the top 10% of publishers.
  • Puck launches livestream event conference series.
  • X will start charging new users in two countries $1 per year to help verify them.
  • GroupM enhances creator content amplification capabilities with Amazon Ads.
  • Skimming, scanning, scrolling – the age of deep reading is over.
  • How centennial media brands stay relevant.
  • Social Internet is dead. Get over it.


  • Scope3 raises $20m to expand business measuring digital ads emissions.
  • Betches has been acquired by LBG media for $24m.
  • Patreon acquires livestream platform Moment.
  • Tucker Carlson has raised $15m for new media company.

Campaign of the week

  • 15 things to know about Pappy’s Smokehouse as it celebrates 15 years. St Louis Magazine with Pappy’s.

View all 2023 best campaigns.

Smartest commentary

  • [On what’s coming in the next year] “The end of ZIRP killing off all big tech-hype products so there isn’t enough to write about. Newsletter writers like me were lucky to get A.I. riding in right as crypto died; now, A.I. hype is already waning. (At least, I get a lot fewer readers for A.I. newsletters than I used to.) What comes next, hype-wise, and how can I get a piece?”Max Read.

Datapoints of note

  • Netflix added 8.76m subscribers globally last quarter. Their ad tier was up almost 70% quarter on quarter.
  • Linktree found animated links drive an 85% higher click-through rate compared to static links, according to the study. Creators use visually animated links to highlight and draw attention to important content, like a new drop or video upload.
  • [On audio ads] While almost half (44%) of listeners said they’re open to hearing audio ads, it comes with the caveat that those ads are not disruptive. More than half (58%) of listeners said it’s important that ads are relevant to the content they’re listening to. About one in four (28%) said they’d favor brands that run ads against relevant content.
  • Consumers are 5x more likely to view advertising within non-premium content as low quality.

That’s it for this week.