Blog Post

Content Shock - Approaching Information Overload


While it's no secret that content marketing is where marketing is seeing its highest success, it's saturating the internet with more content than people could ever explore. This information overload is happening as marketers create content, hoping that an article, video, podcast, infographic, or gif might become viral, get shared, and bring the company's brand to the surface. What does this mean for your content marketing strategy? Watch the Daily Brown Bag to learn about the information overload that's saturating the internet, and how to optimize your marketing strategy to get the attention you're looking for.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to The Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about content shock whether we’re reaching a point of information overload. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag! “Content shock” is kind of a fun term. Let’s get into this, Chad. We’ve been talking about content marketing for a good long time. Certainly, in 2014, people are saying that it’s getting bigger and better, and they’re telling you how to do it. I know we’ve certainly been offering our tips. Of course Google, with its Hummingbird update, is also geared toward finding the best quality that’s relevant to its users, again emphasizing content marketing.

But, today we have this contrarian view coming from Mark Schaefer, the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, who has caused a bit of a stir with his warning of the idea of content shock, which is just sort of this notion of overload. What he’s talking about, and he’s saying, and he’s warning is that we’re rapidly approaching a point where there’s just so much content out there, Chad, that the human brains collectively we all have, the eyeballs just can’t process it all. So, he’s sort of pitching this as sort of a crash, using the analogy of a stock market crash. There’s been a bubble, so to speak, in content marketing, and it’s going to pop.

The reason he’s saying this is that the statistics he’s looking at say that content is doubling every nine to 24 months. We’ve heard stats like that before, and it’s interesting how they kind of trend along the lines of how technology gets faster and better, and there’s only so many hours in the day, so our brains can really only process, scan, and read so much, and there are only so many people in the world who might be eligible or interested in seeing this. So, if supply is drastically increasing, and demand is actually flat, are we headed for a pop? I think that’s interesting. It’s a contrarian point of view of content marketing, and I think it’s worth discussing. Here are a few points from the Content Marketing Institute, though, that talk about the state of the market. We’ve covered some of this before, Chad.

  • 92% of marketers are using content marketing at this point, so the penetration is very, very high.
  • 60% of B2C marketers and 58% of B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014.
  • 73% of marketers say they’re creating more content this year than last. That trends along the lines of increasing your budget.

So, Schaefer’s looking at this whole thing and saying that he thinks a couple things are going to happen. One is that those with the most money are going to win at the content marketing game, just like those with the most money in advertising, which means that the little local players will end up losing. For two, he’s saying, “Breaking in is getting to be impossible,” so how are the little guys going to break in? The third is that at some point, the costs may outweigh, or he thinks will outweigh the benefits of creating content, because it’s not that you can’t write something great or produce something great, but once you have this asset, you just have to promote it, or you can’t break into the cycle. So, there’s a lot to digest there, Chad. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Are we headed for a content crash?

Very interesting question, and it is one that, if you think about it from the different angles of the publishers and newspapers out there, their definition of what content is and how they monetize it might be different from some of the B2B types of customers and B2C, where now we’re looking at content as a way to get into a discussion and nurture people. Let’s take a look at this, because information overload and this concept isn’t new. People have been warning about this since the invention of the printing press, that the amount of content created with just overwhelm the world.

I think that Shel Holtz, who’s the principal at Holtz Communication Technology, sort of took an opposing view to some of the stats that you talked about, Adam. He referenced the studies that show that people actually feel empowered by the amount of information available, and that we are consuming content much more categorically and in niches than ever before, so we have the ability to zero in on just the content that we want.

He also pointed out that content isn’t always geared for everyone at once. It can actually be tailored to these specific audiences, so now that demand we talked about is able to get the content they really wanted, instead of just taking the supply of content that was out there. Now Pew, who does an annual survey on how people are using the internet, talks about the fact that 71% of 18-29-year olds are citing the internet as their main news source, and that now, with the growth of mobile, that 43% of tablet owners say they consume more news since getting their tablets, and basically 64% of tablet owners say that they get news on their devices weekly.

So essentially what this means is that while the demand might not be there in terms of population growth, mobile devices and tablets really are increasing, in some ways, the places people are consuming content, because when you have a minute at the bus stop, or while you’re waiting for the doctor, or whatever it might be, you can actually check your favorite news source and read some interesting information. So, I think that what that really means is that it isn’t totally true that demand isn’t growing, and I don’t think we’re going to reach a point of information overload or content shock as predicted here.

Very interesting. I think these macro-trends are really fascinating, and I think you’re right. There’s a lot of subtlety here, and unlike a financial crash where we can kind of follow the Dow Jones or the S&P, I’m not sure how exactly you would measure that it was happening if there was a content crash or information overload, so I think this would be a much more subtle thing. I think the points you talked about, Chad, are really critical for our internet marketing community, which were just to understand this macro-trend and figure out how to ride that wave, and if the way people are consuming information is changing, be aware of that and be positioned appropriately.

Everything we’re seeing here is pretty much in line with what we’re hearing from Google on how they’re evolving their search and talking about the content that they want to promote, which is higher quality, and how you break through and be noticed. There’s a lot of kernels in here, but I don’t think people on the content marketing bandwagon should jump off. The stats say, if nothing else, it’s just growing. So, those are our opinions. We’d sure like to hear yours. We hope you’ll share a comment or two. If you’ve enjoyed this Brown Bag, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and join us tomorrow for another one.

Comments (4)

  • Bill F Reply

    This is actually a lot less content than I thought there would be, with the Internet being as enormous as it is.

    01/30/14 at 05:36 PM
  • Jesse Reply

    Well, it makes sense when you account for a good chunk of the developed world not having the internet.

    01/31/14 at 08:19 AM
  • Reply

    This is interesting, as we have access to more information if our ability to digest it and process it is the same then we must be more selective about what we consume.

    02/03/14 at 02:24 PM
  • Reply

    64% of tablet owners say that they get news on their devices weekly, I really thought it would be much higher, we are all "plugged in" From phones, to e readers to tablets, ect. I get all of my info from my phone and almost never from my pc. So i am surprised the number who receive it on their tablets are just low.I wonder what the stats are for phone use

    02/11/14 at 09:36 AM

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