Facing Content Inflation

As I was researching what I call “Content Inflation” — which in a nutshell means that, forced to publish spam-like content to increase their visibility on traffic gateways, hundreds of million of publishers create a vicious spiral of meaningless content growth — I was amazed to find how pervasive it is: it impacts blogs, traditional media, eCommerce, but also individuals’ Facebook pages, Twitter, the AppStores and even the Kindle Book Store.

I was so struck that I decided to stop publishing for a while !

But now I’ve captured some of my thinking in the slide deck below and I’m ready to participate again in the online publishing madness.

See my next post “Publish or Perish” which expands on some of the examples presented in the slide deck and a few others.

Summary of presentation
Online, everybody and their dog is a publisher. Some 700 million retailers, brand owners, corporate bloggers, media, and private users who want to reach online users as friends or as customers publish digital content.  The resulting content explosion creates an intense competition for online visibility.

In their quest to be visible on line, publishers have no choice but to produce more and more spam-like content optimized to meet the ranking criteria of leading traffic gateways: the few traffic drivers that dominate their category such as Google, Bing, the AppStore, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon. This creates a rampant content inflation, a massive input of low-value-added content that worsens the content explosion. Optimized content can easily displace, and could even ultimately outgrow original content.

I show concrete examples of how pervasive ranking-optimized content is and how difficult it is to draw the line between optimization and straightforward spam.  On the contrary, optimization blends in and deeply change the way content is created. Although optimization is a loosing game, creating a vicious spiral of meaningless content growth, it’s here to stay. We must learn to live with it – which for businesses means starting a real content strategy.

Why publishers are force to (sort of) spam
How they go about it:
– Publish or perish
– Content farming
– Too frequent updates
– Social Hyperactivity
– Spinning Unique Content
– Automated Content
The resulting content inflation
Learning to live with it


  1. Therese,
    Welcome back to publishing… Great set of slides, very thoughtful and full of data and ideas.

    Love this line: “Content was King, now its a tyrant who shows no mercy” … look forward to more publishing from you.

    Next, I would love to break your final four steps into more practical advice on process and tips on tools.


  2. Evren Kiefer says:

    Thought provoking approach! Our content environments aren’t sane. It isn’t a problem of volume, however. Plenty of it is valuable. Trying to make better sense of the world is a continuous process and, therefore, the archives of our conversations get bigger. This isn’t the problem. Also, optimization and techniques which improve findability aren’t all dirty. I would love to sell content strategy but I am not sure shame is the best route. I would love to know more about the response you get after doing this presentation.

    Spammers and people who spew content think there is a strong ROI. If we could make a business case for better strategy and leaner approaches, the problem would seem more manageable. Unfortunately, it seems we have to do it one organisation at a time and it’s slow.

    • roc says:

      Hi Evren, thanks for your insightful comment. I guess I did not make myself clear. I did not intend to “shame” anybody. I don’t put a moral judgment on “Content Inflation” and the ever faster production of “derivative” content that is designed solely to point at content/improve its visibility. I’m just alerting that we’re entering a new communication phase where derivative content outgrows original content creation. In my view, we have to learn to live with it and combine strategic content (original content to drive engagement) with tactical content (derivative content to drive discovery). I do believe that there is a quantitative issue at stake here because many of the findability or discovery mechanisms are based on quantitative algorithms such as Google’s Page Rank and Facebook’s EdgeRank.

  3. I left this comment on your slideshare account – but thought I would also copy it here:

    The problem is that so many “content publishers” are just throwing content into mainstream feeds that get lost in the noise.

    I’ve found that having a target audience – whether that be the subscribers on your facebook page, your niche google+ circle, or your focused email list – this is as important as the content you share with your network/subscribers/fans.

    I’ve also discovered that there is a very fine line between overwhelming your network/subscribers/fans and providing enough content to keep them coming back for more. Every niche is different.

    My content curation and marketing strategy is constantly evolving based on watching others, testing, seeking feedback, and fighting the urge not to make it a sales message.

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions

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