Diane Mermigas writes:
... At its core, mechanism design theory encourages systematic thinking about how a new playing field and new rules of play can be modified to improve outcomes. In the nearly 50 years since it was developed, the theory has been broadly applied to business matters as far-ranging as valuing software patents, matching donated kidneys to recipients, calculating taxes, and setting up complex auctions. Application of the theory to the Federal Communications Commission’s sale of radio spectrum assured the government the funds it sought, while assuring public and small business access. It has also been applied to the regulation of subscription television and the bundling and pricing of channels. ¶ The initial objectives, per the economists, included the ability “to easily compare different models for selling goods” and provide enough economic incentives to ensure a win-win for all. Much of what the economists devised is relevant to media conundrums. Those include the redefining and re-pricing of advertising; content and services from static to interactive digital platforms; and recalculating the value of advertiser connections from mass eyeballs to individually targeted consumers with whom they can transact online. The social networking, blogging and instant messaging are a means to a commercial end for those hoping to profit from the Internet. ...
Also see this article on mechanism design in Wikipedia. --Dennis