Cracking the Attention Code

Hello and welcome to my laboratory.

Here at Mr. Horne’s Book of Secrets our scientists are dedicated to answering the most important questions in the world, seeking new ways to better the human condition. Our research has led to many groundbreaking discoveries, and we are only getting started.

Now You Have My Attention

Our latest breakthrough is in the field of human attention. In the information age, this topic is more important than ever, as getting noticed online becomes more and more crucial to the success of any venture.

To this end, our scientists have been conducting experiments on popular social media site Twitter as a means of unraveling the secrets of human attention. Our results may well lead to an explosion of interest…in Mr. Horne’s Book of Secrets. And we are going to share our findings with YOU.

Let’s show you what we’ve been cooking up.

Mystical Science

The setup for this experiment was simple and straightforward: create a series of tweets meant to spur interest in a subject, and then measure interest in that subject after each tweet.

The subject for this experiment was Mr. Horne himself. Through this experiment, we hoped to answer the following questions:

  1. Does pairing Mr. Horne with a famous person enhance his brand?
  2. Does pairing Mr. Horne with a beautiful person enhance his brand?
  3. Does pairing Mr. Horne with images of success/reward enhance his brand?

Posing the right question to determine the audience’s interest, however, took a bit of creative thinking. We wanted our survey to plumb the greatest imaginable depth of attention, so naturally, the question asked of all participants after viewing each participant needed to be “Will you marry Mr. Horne?”

This might seem like a bizarre choice, but think of it this way: for every 1 person on Twitter we can commit to actually marrying Mr. Horne, we can probably commit 10 people to buy a product from him (one of his books, for example) and maybe 100 more people to investigate him in some way or another (such as by reading his blog).

Asking whether someone is inclined to marry Mr. Horne naturally results in a lot of negative responses, but each positive response carries greater weight. For this reason, our scientists decided to go ahead with making the marriage question the centerpiece of our survey.

All that remained was to find the right series of images with which to test the masses, leading to the following batch of tweets.

The first experiment took place on February 7, 2021.

Scientific Control

Every good science experiment begins with a control group. Thus, our scientists began with a single marriage question without a preceding image.

This forms a baseline for judging all future surveys. Two applicants state that they would marry Mr. Horne. If our assumption about 10x and 100x factors is correct, this means that 20 people could be convinced to buy a product from Mr. Horne and 200 people could be convinced to read his blog.

After a control had been established, the real experiment began.

Ryan Seacrest — Idol Power

Placing a picture of Mr. Horne next to Ryan Seacrest yielded the following result.

We see a 6.7% increase from the baseline.

Associating Mr. Horne’s brand with that of Mr. Seacrest showed marked results. But other factors needed to be controlled for.

To begin with, Mr. Seacrest is not only a celebrity but also attractive. We could not be sure whether the improved result was the result of fame or good looks.

To make an empirical conclusion, the experiment had to continue.

How to Become a Nameless Male Model

In order to control for physical good looks, the experiment was run again. But this time, instead of a male celebrity, the image used was of a nameless male model.

This allowed us to gauge the impact of beauty alone on the results.

It would appear as if associating a brand with beautiful but nonfamous models has zero impact on the ability to hold human attention.

Miley Cyrus Ex-fiance, Liam Hemsworth

Having ruled out beauty as a factor, our scientists decided to double down on determining whether celebrity association is the best way to influence attention. We tried the experiment again, this time using an image of Liam Hemsworth.

We wanted to see if we could repeat Ryan Seacrest’s results, and we succeded.

Does Ryan Gosling Play Piano?

Our next experiment used Ryan Gosling.

This result sent shockwaves through our data. It would appear that not only does Ryan Gosling lack the star power to enhance a brand, but he is actually detrimental to any such effort.

How he became so radioactive is a mystery. But it was clear to our scientists that it was time to try a different tack.

Margot Robbie Look Alikes

All images so far had been of men.

There was, of course, reason for this. Since Mr. Horne is a man, it makes sense to try to augment his brand with the images of other men.

However, this introduces a bias into the experiment that must be controlled for. To this end, our next image featured Australian actress Margot Robbie.

This drastic result seems to indicate that comparing Mr. Horne to a famous woman does not have the same effect that comparing him to a famous man does, and pairing an image of Mr. Horne with the image of a famous woman does not provide the same reward of audience attention.

Ugly Photos Instagram Hack

Having already controlled for physical beauty, it made sense to calibrate also against physical ugliness. To this end, a photograph of a non-celebrity framed in an ugly way, was used.

As expected, associating Mr. Horne’s image with ugliness made it less likely for him to hold people’s attention. Physical attractiveness may not be a factor when it comes to enhancing a brand, but physical ugliness might be a liability.

But we had to test that further.

Danny DeVito Fanny Pack

It’s possible to be a highly successful celebrity without having movie-star-level looks. To test how strong star power was on its own, we used an image of Danny DeVito.


Outstandingly, Mr. DeVito was a greater enhancement than any other celebrity used in this experiment.

Perhaps this is due to his longer resume than the other celebrities used, giving the impression that he has achieved greater success. It may be said that he is more famous than any of the others used in this experiment.

So how do we control for fame?

Lego Roman Colosseum

We decided to use the image of a famous landmark. Such an image would not be physically attractive to most people, but would be extremely well known.

From this result, it appears that fame is not a proper factor for holding attention unless it comes from a famous person.

Money Heist Part 5

If we remove all factors of fame entirely, we notice a different axis that may account for much of the attention we have seen: money.

To test this, we ran the experiment again.

Giving us the best result of the entire experiment, it appears that money truly does buy attention.


Some conventional wisdom states that a man seeking attention should hang out with friends who are uglier and less successful than himself.

The results of this experiment seem to contradict that notion. Far more credence is given to the man who is surrounded by success, even if that success is not his own.

Especially when it comes to maintaining a brand online, you get the most benefit by comparing that brand to already-successful analogues. Run with the wolves and you become a wolf.

This experiment will likely affect how I promote myself going forward. And more experiments like it may follow.

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