Content a commodity? Not on this blog…

Note: I wrote this post a few days ago and the web has literally exploded with commentary regarding content and the value of content.

Some notable stories:

U.S. Lags in Social Media Content
This writer’s take: The production value of competitive content outside the U.S. is lower than in the U.S.

Most Bloggers Don’t Deserve Any Ad Revenue
This writer’s take: A bit of a blanket statement, if you are good at creating content ad dollars will follow.

Read on now for more comments on Content as a Commodity: (written earlier this week)

(For the purposes of this post, I will speak directly to journalistic or blogging content, not music or other.)

A post getting a lot of play in the online community over the past few days discusses the commoditization of content.

I found that post through this post here claiming content is becoming a commodity by Sarah Perez.

My rebuttal on this is, “Look who is speaking.” And the answer would be “bloggers.”

The business of content has existed since movable type. It has always been some amalgamation of three things: distribution, production, and voice.

In terms of voice you can consider this brand, an author, or an editor. Each of these factors (distribution, production, voice) require a certain amount of funding or resources to maintain.

The very relationships of “content” is fundamentally been between the voice who is creating it (the “signal”) and the audience who it is intended for (the “receiver.”) This, of course, remains unchanged.

“Content” (I’ll stop with the parenthesis after this) has morphed at a phenomenal rate with the introduction of the Web. What has occurred online as Ms. Perez states in her article is content supply has exploded and access to content is now “easy.”

The conclusion is a devaluation of content and that could not be further from the truth.

What has actually occurred here is a change in the fundamental components of content. Production creation (and in some cases with that quality) has become cheaper (increasing supply as Ms. Perez accurately points out), while getting content or sifting through content choices has become harder not easier.

But what about Google and YouTube…and search engines in general?

What all of these services have merely done is allowed the consumer to review more content “opportunities” than before in a faster time without a quality score.

A parallel to consider: How come when a new cable channel comes out they are usually on channel 837?

Because no one goes to channel 837. Either distribution and marketing has to drive someone there or the content has to be so good that virally people tell one another about it.

With the advent of faster connections, search engines, RSS feeds, bookmarking, the speed of reviewing potential content has increased exponentially.

In essence, choice has increased noise in the signal to receiver relationship. Now a content provider, like a blog, must have a stronger signal to reach the receiver.

How do you create a stronger signal? Two options.
One, you spend more resources or money on distribution. Or…
Two, you have better and unique content.

The reason blogger’s feel that their content is commoditized is because they lack either the strong voice to bring users back to their content or they give away more of it just to get people to notice it.

In the world of content, unique and good content always wins. If you are a blogger and your content is commoditized, maybe that’s because what you were saying isn’t all that good and unique or you don’t have the budget to broadcast your voice.

Good content is not a commodity, text, words and web pages are commodities. What you are seeing now is survival of the fittest amongst content when the rules of distribution and production are changing every day.

That’s all.

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1 comment so far

  1. VoiceHero on

    well – you could say produce high quality content on your chosen topic and provide a search engine friendly structure on-and off your site.

    that was the receipt 3000 years ago and is so today – regardless of the medium. of course its easier to produce and distribute content using the internet, but as the threshold to do so has become so much lower, quality decline followed. just because there is youtube, doens´t mean anyone can become HBO 🙂


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