Consumer Trends

Content Marketing is Dead: Mathematical Proof

Simple mathematics tells us that content marketing is dead.

Why? Well given that the volume of content on the Web is growing exponentially, doubling every few months, the amount of content out there is – to all practical intents and purposes – pretty much infinite.  But human attention is definitely not infinite, it is very finite. Any finite number divided by infinity is zero, therefore the average attention captured by content marketing is trending to zero.  Therefore content marketing is dead. QED.

That’s the essence of Mark Schaefer’s Content Shock, with a hat tip to Douglas Adams,  in a new post that’s created a shock in content marketing world and that claims that the increasing amounts of time, skill and money needed to attract audiences has made content marketing unviable.  It also detracts focus and resource from what people pay you for, whilst undermining future efforts by further increasing clutter.  It’s called ‘Content Shock’ – too much content, not enough attention.

So whilst you might think it’s cool for your brand to be a film studio or publishing house, the economics of becoming one doesn’t stand up. Better to just pay for attention via interruptive advertising? Perhaps.

Sure, Google’s algorithms combined with exponential increases in landfill marketing are making the brand game of of let’s play at being a film studio/publishing house economically unviable.  There’s an instructive precedent here for content marketers – early soap operas were so-called because they were produced by soap manufacturers themselves – until manufacturer’s realised that what they were really good was manufacturing not making serials.  So they stuck to sponsoring content and advertising in it.

And that’s what content marketing should be about – helping brands sponsor and advertise in content – not produce it.

Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

6 Comments Add New Comment

  1. I like that you said “… is dead” Got me to read it. It is a play on words but it’s so true, it’s like the early soap opera days, it’s time for brands to sponsor great content because 99% of them really can’t create great content and it is also true, the growth on content for content marketing sake is exponentially increasing so we need a better way to be relevant to our customers.

  2. Ok, I pretty much failed at math, so maybe that’s why I don’t see the point. Yes, there is more and more content being produced, but at the same time content is being consumed as well, and once I’ve seen something I don’t want/need to see it again. So we can pretty much ignore the volume of content that is not “‘fresh”, while the freshly produced content (even if we assume that the volume produced per day is increasing) is still getting the amount of eyeballs that is increasing as well, as more and more people are getting access to the internet. Yes, it might be that the amount of content is growing more rapidly then amount of eyeballs, but I don’t think the difference is that big. At the end, good content will still win (with a little bit of push), and bad content (unless it’s so bad it’s good) will fail. Prove me wrong?

  3. I’m a little torn here. Obviously Paul and Mark are smart guys, so I don’t want to discount their opinions. At the same time, I can’t help but feel 99% of these “_______ is Dead” posts are just sky-is-falling link bait that never really pan out.

    Clearly there is a glut of content, but there has never been and never will be a glut of GREAT content. Instead of content shock, I think what we’re really seeing is simply a maturation of content marketing. The quick-win low hanging fruit is gone in a lot of industries, but that doesn’t mean it’s DEAD.

  4. I’m too a bit torn, I get cluttering our lives with bad content can be a turn-off but are they suggesting we revert to the old advertising model? I don’t buy that for a second. The market just needs to adapt and figure out how to best leverage content marketing.

  5. Hi, for one, have to partly agree. By this pace of investment we’ll be trashing another channel before we (agencies) have the full benefits of it. And investing in “shock” content will always be a solid solution – it’s been here for ages for a reason – it works.

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