your attention please! digital capitalism and communicative escalation  

I’ve received these two emails from Expedia in a matter of days:


What stands out to me is their use of emojis in subject lines to differentiate  themselves within what can be presumed to be an overcrowded inbox. It seems likely this has been tested, tracking a potential increase in engagement rate when the emojis are included, as well as plausible that the tactic indeed has a demonstrable positive effect. 

But how long does it take for this knowledge to circulate? How long before others are adopting the same strategy? In which case the increased capacity to win the attention of the reader and stimulate engagement is negated. In which case a new tactic is called for, one which will inevitably be subject to the same dynamics in the event of it enjoying demonstrable success.

This is what I’ve written about as a communicative escalation and I increasingly see examples of it everywhere.