Does content matter?

This is an old discussion, but in order to give insight into my thought process, I will go over this debate and take a stand; Content matters only to those who create it.

This debate stems from the old days when content was king. The argument is consumers have relationships with marketer brands, but also relationships with branded media content. This means that they are in some way, shape or form assessing the quality of content they read and from that picking which content they are loyal to. In other words we have individuals who are loyal to the Wall Street Journal and those who are loyal to the New York Times. The question that arises then is: is it the content that they are loyal to or the package it comes with? Well the content makes up the package so it has to be the content, right? Wrong. Audiences experience such low switching costs that although they may like a specific style, and read it religiously, they do not need to read it. They read it because they want to. If you block the site which hosts the content they are interested in, they will just move on to one of the many other alternatives that discusses the same topic.

This brings up the counter thought, that people will be drawn to quality content over amateur work. We currently live in a world where content is portable and anyone and everyone is capable of being a content producer. Be it by blogging, tweeting, or taking videos with their camera phones, the quality of content does not matter. YouTube is the best example. The videos on YouTube that get the most hits are the ones that are so called amateur videos taken with a small camcorder or video phone in the backyard. The big budget, quality videos barely get seen.

Another example. As a consumer of news, I want the news when I want it and how I want it. The content doesn’t matter; I just need to know what happened. When I am on news websites looking for stories to read, I read the headline and introduction and that is usually enough for me to get what I need from the story. The further analyses and opinions of the news writer don’t mean much to me. I just want the information, so I can process it and make my own deductions about it. I can only speak for myself and I am biased in that I assume I am a rational human being and that others consume news in the same manner as myself.

I stated before that content only matters to those who create it. The next phrase should be: it doesn’t matter without an audience. The content is not the important aspect here, it is the audience. So perhaps the focus should be more on the audience and distribution than on the content. In a way the audience decides what content matters by forwarding what they feel is significant and leaving the rest. There is a surplus of information and an almost infinite number of alternatives to be able to objectively claim that content matters. This, then, becomes a problem of competition.

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