Subtitle: No!! It isn’t!!!
I want to take this time to let my readers know why this post wasn’t published on September 20, 2021. I found the more I researched the article’s subject matter, the more I became familiar with today’s internet marketing industry’s influence on it. And as my familiarity grew, the more confused & dismayed I became! To the extent that I was being sidetracked from the article’s initial intent! Let me explain further…
Since I do not offer a marketing service per se, I was relatively ignorant of the inner workings of the internet marketing industry. However, that has unfortunately changed!
After researching this post, I found I could not escape from a persisting mental image of the embodiment of an avaricious Capitalism being well-fed on internet carrion! Glaringly so…for today’s internet marketing industry[2020 worldwide spending on digital advertising: US $378.16 billion].
If you consider the staggering rates of online business failure, optimistically as low as 80% and as grave as 90+%, you begin to fathom just how much of this digital advertising dollar figure rests upon dashed hopes! One-dimensional mathematics? Yes! But..this hardly detracts from the likely conclusion that a significant amount of what internet marketing companies ply today is ineffectual towards promoting many eCommerce websites’ longevity!
Yes, I can already hear the rationalizations, especially the one, ‘oh, you are being too histrionic!’ But! Mathematics isn’t interested in egos! Definitely subject matter for a future exposé (wrapped in a ‘Weird Al Yankovic’ flavoured theme…oh yeah!) as I suspect ‘hype’ will be a good investigative starting point. Enough of this morass for now…
Suffice it to say that this
article post remains appropriately objective with a hint of humour to ameliorate any misperceived connotations. Also, that I did not relish writing this piece. Its’ implication had a dampening effect on my usual writing ebullience…darn! However, life goes on whether I am here or not! And my readers are waiting! PS: Yes, I took the liberty of adding a last-minute subtitle, although it is not doing much for my SEO, lol!
And the post begins…
The evolution of website content and our preoccupation with it can be traced as far back as humankind’s prehistory. Cave dwellers (troglodytes, if you prefer) past on their life stories by depictions drawn on cave walls. These images represent some of humankind’s early attempts to retain content to purvey information.
Transporting[Thanks to NCC-1701] to 1732 (AD or CE) reveals an instance of how some content has evolved into a conceptual mechanism (some would say ‘machination’) marketing a product! Apparently, Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac was created to generate interest in printed material. Mr. Franklin was counting on the projected increase in readers benefiting his printing press business. The almanac was printed until the year 1758.
Moving time ahead[don’t ask me how] to our contemporary period comprising 1945 to the present…
You can now listen, watch, and interact with how radio, TV, and computers; influenced the concept of content within the minds of such notables as Sumner Redstone (American businessman & media mogul) and Bill Gates (American business magnate). Their famous phrase proclaiming ‘Content is King’ has influenced many marketing strategies & tactics. Needless to say, it was during this period that content ‘blossomed’ into what it is today. The present?
Judging from the amount of advertisement and ‘notification & subscription’ popups on the front pages of mainstream websites today, I can comfortably say that Mr. Gates’ paragraph from his 1996 essay, ‘Content Is King’, remains resonant. And, I quote:
“For the Internet to thrive, content providers must be paid for their work. The long-term prospects are good, but I expect a lot of disappointment in the short-term as content companies struggle to make money through advertising or subscriptions. It isn’t working yet, and it may not for some time.“from the article, “Content is King” – Essay by Bill Gates 1996, by Heath Evans
So, what has transpired in twenty-five (25) years? What gains have been made which will demonstrate that reality is starting to align with Mr. Gates’ thoughts?[haha!]
Yes, there are examples of companies achieving headway. Netflix, Apple Music, and Adobe found success with the online subscription business model. But these companies are corporate entities! Most website businesses today are not! Sooo…how are these smaller businesses fairing? How do they remain viable in today’s highly competitive internet market? How are they getting paid for their content?
Let’s start to answer these questions by creating an expository scenario. Let’s divide all eCommerce websites into two (2) types: websites having, or not having, a ‘brick & mortar’ store! And, starting with the ones without…
First off, I
strongly suspect know that a significant number of ‘brick & mortar’-less website businesses are struggling to stay financially afloat today. Why? Market saturation coupled with narrowing money avenues (think ‘David & Goliath’) quickly comes to my mind! Plus…zealous internet marketing! One could say that ‘it feels like a modern manifestation of the spirit of P.T. Barnum!”_But, I am lacking a detailed study…so I won’t…say…
Let’s face it! For any one product, you can readily find ‘oodles & oodles & oodles…ad nauseam’ of websites offering it! Each site will vary slightly in a cookie-cutter-styled colour theme, layout, and font. Each will generally offer a similar product price or payment plan. But! Every site will be offering the same (or some knockoff) product! The only real differentiating factor impelling anyone to purchase anything is a geographical location dictating a quick delivery![Note to the interested few: doing something, like everyone else, over & over, and then expecting some great change…well…that leads me to only three (3) logical conclusions: either one is a follower…lacking adequate perceptive abilities…or possibly suffering from some type of mental impairment, be it self-induced or not! If you know of any other conclusion, please let me know…because the winners are already crossing the finish line!!!]
Unfortunately, the only consistent ‘winners’ here are the ones (whom I euphemistically call ‘churners’) selling these store-less website owners services which will never result in success for most! And, yes! The statistics are freely available, “ahem”, to everyone! Content has become strictly ancillary to the goal of making money!_Now…the ‘brick & mortar’ websites are a different story!
Here…the ‘quick buck’ mentality is gone…comparatively speaking.
P.T. Barnum has transitioned back to his corporeal state! Websites have a greater rate of success! Loyal customer bases are dynamically garnered & maintained promoting business longevity! Every goal & aspiration has a foundational impact! Content on these website ‘cave walls’ is once again relaying information for reader edification. One-line quips have no prominent place! Customer satisfaction is supreme! And, rightfully so! Content is generally relevant & trustful on these sites!
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!”[unknown]
Quite a contrast, don’t you think? The differences between these website types markedly show that content (unless you are sitting in Socrates’ cave, lol!) is mainly perceived according to the framework within which relevancy is bestowed upon it![You also have to take into account the human factor(s) creating the framework itself]! This leads us to another commonly known phrase, ‘Content is King, Context is Queen!’
I cannot think of any circumstance in which this expression would not hold true for our subject at hand! After all, context is meaningless without intelligence! Once you realize this insanely obvious & indubitable fact (my deus ex machina, lol!), you can reasonably surmise what is needed to succeed on the internet today with the content you choose to brand! Or…
…simply go to the industry leaders’ websites! Really! It’s that simple! These sites are replete with proper steps, procedures, caveats, and more! The efforts these leaders made will ensure your efforts have the best chance to be rewarded with a viable website business. It’s just NOT going to happen overnight…no matter how many times the ‘churners’ tell you otherwise! Yes, there are exceptions! Just…don’t think of them as ‘rules of thumb.’ Sadly, there will be those…trying to convince you otherwise!
So what can we conclude? What can we distill from this comparative example?
Well, it’s likely that, at least, one of the Seven Deadly Sins – greed – is ‘alive & well’ on the internet today! Its’ effect has ruined many aspirations. And given the rate of eCommerce website failures, I would think (hope at least) that one will exercise greater caution in future dealings with today’s internet marketing industry! For it seems that a significant amount of what this industry purports simply isn’t working if you believe the math![my favourite educational tool]
As for content, whether now or in the future, and regardless of the website type; the best approach remains an intelligent one.😉 A self-evident statement? Yes! But…ever so true! Not ones based on platitudinal phrases (which should only be used as ‘stepping stones’ to arrive at broader perceptualizations) And, definitely not ones masquerading as the circus’ main attractions when, in fact, they are nothing more than mere sideshows.
And finally, yes, context is important to content! But, it is still only a part of the holistic understanding unique to sentient beings and capable of being perceived by humankind’s intellect! An analogy would be the familiar one of ‘a boat on the surface of a sea.’
That’s all I have to say about this matter!