Content Inflation

The idea behind Content Inflation is that publishers — be they online media or eCommerce sites — are suffering from an artificial production of low value-added content that they have to create for the sole purpose of improving their visibility on social media and rank higher on search engines, directories and portals.

Content inflation is a vicious circle: every publisher must outdo its competitors, constantly raising the bar for more content that has no other value-added than improving its visibility.

Content inflation is the unavoidable quantitative part of Content Marketing. Content Marketing is not only about telling compelling stories about brands and products. It is also about making sure these stories are repeated as often as possible, in as many different ways, and in the most visited spots of the fixed and mobile traffic gateways.

Examples of content inflation are:

  • Websites entirely produced by content farms in order to rank well in search engines and capture traffic and advertising revenue.
  • Corporate bloggers who release of regular stream of posts and tweets in order to make the corporation more visible in social media.
  • Content curation that automatically clips, rebundles and repurposes existing content.
  • Product descriptions that are “spinned” to make them look new and unique.
  • Kindle books quickly pieced together using age-old recipes for easy-reading and sold for 99 cents in order to quickly win readers who are unlikely to complain about a 99 cent book.
  • Mobile application updates designed solely to recall the app to the attention of iPhone users in the Appstore.

Content inflation stiffles creativity in many ways:

  • In most cases, ranking-driven content is based on plundering original content.
  • Original content ranks less well in search engines and portals because it is less “optimized” for ranking and because search engines can’t tell the difference between the original and the copy.
  • Writers are employed to generate meaningless content instead of working on more ambitious creative and value adding projects.

Content inflation is a by-product of organic content growth. As ever more content is produced and archived, content producers struggle to have their original content indexed and found. They feel compelled to create more content by-products to point to their original content and increase its visibility. Content inflation thus contaminates every online media like ant infectious disease.

Ranking-driven or visibility-driven content is a derivative of original content much in the same way as financial derivatives build on the real economy. Like financial derives, content derivatives could soon outgrow the original content they’re based on by a factor of 10 or more.

There is no foreseable way out of content inflation, even though it is a losing game for all parties: content producers, indexing sites and users. The best we can do it to learn to live with it and limit the damages it does to creativity.

For more details see the related posts

Facing Content Inflation – a slide deck

Publish or Perish

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