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Facing content-inflation-slide-show


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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. We must learn to live with it – which for businesses means having 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

Published in: Business, Technology, Design

Facing content-inflation-slide-show

  1. 1. FACING CONTENT INFLATIONTherese TorrisAugust 2011
  3. 3. AGENDA• Why publishers are forced to (sort of) spam• How they go about it• The resulting content inflation• Learning to live with it, September 2011
  4. 4. 1 IN 10 PEOPLE WW IS A PUBLISHER• 200 million Web sites• 170 million blogs• 1 million eBooks on the Kindle• 500 000 applications on the US AppStore, September 2011
  5. 5. PRODUCING MORE AND MORE CONTENT15 billion new pages in Google’s index in 3 months Source: 2011, September 2011
  6. 6. RICHER CONTENTMore text, more pictures, sounds & video Data source: , 2011, September 2011
  7. 7. FASTER• 60 million blog posts per day• 140 million tweets per day• 70 million hours of video uploaded on YouTube per day, September 2011
  8. 8. USERS ARE OVERWHELMED Consuming content is like drinking from a fire hose, September 2011
  10. 10. LEADING GATEWAYS TAKE IT ALLNetwork effects reinforce Bingthe domination of a few 3,6% Baidu• Search engines 4,6% Yahoo 6,2%• App stores• Social networks Google 83,6%• Content Portals• Marketplaces Global Search Market Share Source: Source: July 2011, September 2011
  11. 11. TOP RANKINGS TAKES IT ALL No traffic from gateways beyond the top rankings: • First pages 36,4% • Top 10 • Top 100 • Best sellers 8,9% 1,4% • Top news 1st position First page Second page on 1st page Average Click-Through Rates On Search Result Pages Source:, April 20011, September 2011
  12. 12. CONTENT VISIBILITY IS SQUEEZED• Listed, or not• Sorted into index’s categories/taxonomy PageRank EdgeRank• Matched to Bestsellers Top • Search interpretation news … • Suggestion & recommendation engines• Ranked by algorithm, September 2011
  13. 13. PUBLISHERS STRUGGLE FOR VISIBILITY Rakuten Google Amazon TwitterBaidu Facebook blogspotiMDB Yahoo! Aol LinkedIn Wikipedia Microsoft, September 2011
  15. 15. OPTIMIZATION VS SPAM : A FINE LINE• Publish or perish • More • More often • Richer content • Archive more• Ubiquitous content farming• Too frequent updates• Social hyperactivity• Spinning unique content• Automated content, September 2011
  16. 16. Publish or Perish “If you want to remain top of mind you have to find a way to converse much more frequently than when you have big news.” A. Handley & C. Chapman, Content Rules, 2010
  17. 17. Content Farming “Content is Marketing. Adding customized high-quality content from Demand Media is an efficient way to drive growth for your website.” www.demandmedia.com
  18. 18. Ubiquitous Content Farming SEO changed the newsroom: “Almost all of our posts are written, or should be written with SEO in mind….” Quote from HuffPost. Sources:,, outspokenmedia.com
  19. 19. Too Frequent Updates Let’s make the list !  New  Last updated  Most recent  Top news
  20. 20. Social Hyperactivity “Keep engaging with others, and continue creating engaging content to see your Klout Score rise.” www.klout.com
  21. 21. Spinning Unique Content “Quickly Generate Hundreds Of Unique Versions of Your Articles Using This Revolutionary Software!” www.thebestspinner.com
  22. 22. Automated Content  Content curation  Optimization  Autopost www.posterous.com
  23. 23. THE RESULTING CONTENT INFLATION A chronic inflation of spam-like, ranking- driven content Ranking-driven content Original content, September 2011
  24. 24. HASTENS OVERALL CONTENT GROWTH Ranking-driven content blends into content creation and speeds the content explosion, September 2011
  25. 25. A VICIOUS GROWTH SPIRAL• The more “optimized” content, the less effective• The less effective it becomes, the more is produced, September 2011
  26. 26. OUT OF CONTROLOptimized, ranking-driven content• outsmarts controls such as Panda• sucks up resources• stifles creativity• displaces and outgrows truly original content, September 2011
  27. 27. EMAIL: DOMINATED BY SPAM 88% Spam = 7.5 times legitimate email 12% Abusive emails Unaltered delivered email Data Source Q4 2010, September 2011
  28. 28. CONTENT DOMINATED BY ‘OPTIMIZATION’? 10 x n billions of visible pages How soon could this happen? n billions of visible pages Spam-like, ranking-driven Original content content 2011, September 2011
  29. 29. DERIVATIVES CAN OUTGROW THE ORIGINAL $680 290 financial derivatives =10 times the real economy $65 610 $53 510 Financial Derivatives World Capital Base Gross World Product (BIS est.) (CIA est.) (CIA est.) Financial data from The Crushing Potential of Financial Derivatives, D. Haas, Oct. 2008,, September 2011
  31. 31. FOUR STEPS1. Stop fiddling around ‐ Ditch the blog and start a real content strategy2. Manage your digital content assets - Inventory your texts, sounds, videos - Assess their customer engagement value3. Reconcile content tactics and strategy - Optimizing content for rankings - Investing in longer term customer engagement4. Empower your people - Your marketing/content people -- not interns, not the agency - Give them tools - Let them set ROI targets & metrics, September 2011
  32. 32. Parting words: Content was king. Now it’s a tyrant who knows no mercy.Therese