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Content is King

Sat, 30th March 2019, 13:36

Writer’s Block. The curse of being neither unable to think of what to write, or even how to proceed with writing. It’s like getting the Windows ‘black screen of death’, or those wretched iPhone updates! It stops everything!

For countless minions, satisfied with a static single page web presence that’s akin to those old yellow page placements,  writer’s block is not an issue. But for websites vying for top rank in search results, content is king, engagement is queen and yes, consumers are the kingmakers. Lack of new content could be interpreted by the search bots crawling and indexing your website, that it is dead!       

(Editor’s ponders the good old days when a ‘business card-sized’ listings in the Yellow Pages cost $250 to $400 a month. A quarter-page would run about $1,250 per month. A full-page listing, sans color, would set you back a cool $2,500 to $5,000 per month. Think about that the next time your web hosting comes up for renewal!)

‘CONTENT IS KING’ – BILL GATES (1/3/1996)

It has been said that Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” in a essay written in the latter days of the last century. While the whole essay is a worthy read, (got to love Gate’s reference to downloads using dial up connections), here an excerpt for brevity:

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.

One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience.”

Gates expounds on how easy it is to imagine a future where legions of soft cover magazines readers migrate to online editions because of their shared common interests. Gates also gave voice to what many were only beginning to perceive - the very existence of printed magazines with the widespread adoption of the Internet   

But Gates also foreseen that to be successful online, a magazine couldn’t just take what it has in print and move it onto a electronic platform.

“There isn’t enough depth or interactivity in print content to overcome the drawbacks of the online medium.

If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines”. 

(editor's note: 'possibly video'... Google didn't even exist when this was written never mind youtube and vimeo!)

It would be hard to argue that much of what Gates expounds on in his essay hasn’t become the reality of today’s internet connected world. Yet many traditional brick and mortar entities are struggling to survive simply because they never heeded the warnings heralded by Gates “that to be successful online, a magazine couldn’t just take what it has in print and move it onto a electronic platform.” In the early days success was measured by the ability of a website to attract visitors. Relevant and useful content was the bait. Despite the Internet ability for information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher, far too many in their haste to monetize their success are driving away the very audience they once sought to attract through an endless barrage of adverts, pop-ups, and firewalls.

For the Internet to thrive, content providers must be paid for their work. But content providers also need to grasp the reality that in today’s society, the breadth of information readily available on the Internet has indeed become enormous. The endless barrage of adverts that are dealing death blows to the cable industry will be the same nails in the coffin of their online forays.

Content is king. Those who succeed in providing relevant content will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products-a marketplace of content. But engagement is queen and consumers are still the kingmakers.