Time to challenge ‘Content is king’

An almost absurdly simple point made recently at EffWeek 2017 should give marketers cause to reconsider their content marketing expectations and efforts.

To state the obvious, driven by the ‘content is king’ mantra, almost every brand is churning out more content.  This all modestly adds to the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that according to IBM is produced daily.

In terms that make more marketing sense, in every minute of every day in 2017: 600 new page edits are published on Wikipedia, Tumblr users produce 74,220 posts pages and 4,146,600 videos are watched on YouTube.

Just one problem though, the time people have to absorb all this extra content isn’t changing.  As this basic graphic from Brandworks University’s Effweek presentation illustrates, there is an ever widening gap between what is being produced and our capacity to digest it.

No More Time in the Day to Consume More Content (IPA EffWeek 2017)

The intriguing thing is that this point is fundamentally neither new or surprising.  Time-poverty has been touted as a characteristic of modern society for the past 20 years.  And statistics on the unseemly number of marketing messages that people are exposed to each day have been around for decades.

So why is this limitation apparently being ignored?

As noted in the post The Death of Marketing Strategy, it may simply be that the complexities of keeping up with the current tech driven marketing environment has curbed critical thinking.  Brands are unquestioningly following what is touted as standard practice out of fear of being left behind rather than what makes sense for their particular market situation.

It certainly supports the viewpoint that it is now context, rather than content, that is ‘king’.  That to have any chance of being effective, content needs to be developed with a clear understanding of ‘When’, ‘Where’ and ‘How’ people are meant to access it.

While these considerations may be enough at the middle to late stages of a consumer journey – especially for more high-involvement categories – they are in themselves unlikely to be enough for the early stages of the journey.  Here marketers have no choice but to also think through ‘Why’ people should pay any attention to their content.


For those replacing ‘traditional’ advertising with online content to build up front awareness and familiarity, this question is even more critical as here the demand on people’s attention is now coming from everyone and everything.

With their time increasingly at a premium, why should consumers spend any of it on your brand’s content?  How is it different?  Is it inspiring, useful, (really) entertaining, informative, etc.?  Does it meet a niche need or interest?

If you can’t answer this question, then it may be some good old interruptive communications is a better option.

Realtors like to tout that land is the only thing they’re not making more of.  But if you’re in marketing, it will pay to remember that people’s time is as limited a resource.

:Espied | Espied posts are selected news items of particular relevance to brand management today.

Our blog aims to provide thoughts and insights into brand strategy, brand management and brand building for navigating a changing world.

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