UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Algorithmic Attention Rents

Dominant digital platforms today act as gatekeepers of user attention. This gives gatekeepers enormous power over their ecosystems of suppliers, who are reliant on how the platform will allocate user attention for their visibility. 

This research explores how a dominant platform allocates value algorithmically and how they might increase their share of value when they exploit patterns in user behaviour and their captive ecosystems of suppliers and/or advertisers. This might involve the gatekeeper disregarding user preferences when it allocates user attention, ignoring the information content of their supplier ecosystems, promoting paid information over optimally relevant organic information, or manipulating user attention through subtle changes in the decision-making context of the platform.



In the press


    1. Algorithmic Rents research showcase,12 October 2023 in conversation with Mariana Mazzucato, Tim O’Reilly and Ilan Strauss on Algorithmic Rents. Download here the showcase presentation slides.

    2. UCL IIPP hosted an expert workshop on algorithmic rents  in October 2022 - To inform our research process investigating algorithmic attention rents, UCL IIPP hosted an expert workshop in October 2022. Experts from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, Ofcom, and the Financial Conduct Authority joined academics to discuss IIPP’s latest digital economy research on ‘algorithmic rents': how algorithms distribute benefits through allocating users’ attention.

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    Ilan StraussSenior Research Associate at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP).

    Email: i.strauss@ucl.ac.uk