Publisher's Paradox: Information Overload
The Paradox: Just because there is more information available does not mean one can consume more.
An average of 17 webpages are published every single second. In the time it takes you to read this article 4,080 new webpages will be indexed, promoted, optimized, and set free on the world wide web. Every new article we publish contributes to information overload.
The Evolution of Overload
The Early Years
Step back, for just a minute, and imagine the media world we inhabited in the 1950’s. In 1950 there wasn’t much of a gap between the information we perceived was available to us and the information we actually consumed. In 1950 one might have subscribed to a local newspaper, listened to one’s favorite radio station, subscribed to a few monthly magazines, and tuned into a television network each night. While you were aware of the other options in the media marketplace the selection was manageable and one must have found it easy to decide what content to consume and what to consciously ignore.
The 200-Channel Universe
By the 1990’s the gap between the information one actually consumed and the information one perceived was available begins to widen with the cable television explosion. Remember the discussions surrounding “the 200-channel universe?” In the 1990’s we saw the debut of networks like CNN International, CNNSI, CNN HLN, CNBC, MSNBC, FoxNews, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNU… the list goes on and on. Consumers found themselves channel-surfing more than ever before, wondering what they were missing on ESPN2 if they were tuned into ESPN.
The Information Super-Highway
The content explosion on the internet has only intensified consumers’ perception that no matter how much they read, watch, or listen, they’re missing valuable content someone else has consumed. Ironically, no matter how much one might try, the information one is physically capable of consuming has an upper limit – a consumption plateau occurs. Our audience is forced to choose which information they will build a relationship with and which content they’ll ignore.
The Perceived Opportunity
As publishers, we’re contributing to information overload. Here’s why: We’re chasing more eyeballs, more often. Fundamentally, we believe that the more often we publish -- the more often we shove information down our audience’s throat -- the more they’ll consume. We aren’t the only ones doing this. Marketers are also chasing the social stream. Sending more e-mails, publishing more Facebook updates and tweets. It’s time we stop chasing the perceived opportunity and focus our energy on creating content our audience actually wants to consume.
The Actual Opportunity
What if we focused on creating higher-quality content designed to attract a higher-quality audience on a regular basis? What if we decided to create one piece of consistent content designed to be consumed by a valuable audience? What if we stopped chasing eyeballs and started focusing on building relationships with subsets of the audience we serve? What if we decided to be part of the information our audience actually WANTED to consume?
The Publisher’s Challenge
In this week’s staff meeting, I want you to challenge your team to create content your audience actually WANTS to consume. I want you to challenge the team to make an appointment with a specific audience on a regular basis with a piece of formatted content designed to drive value for the audience. Challenge your team to combat information overload.
I invite you to steal these slides and present this paradox to your team.
About Publisher’s Paradox
Your publishing world has been turned upside down in the last decade. Call it digital disruption or the death of print -- it doesn't matter. You're still challenged with driving reliable revenue for a thriving market. The problem is you need your entire staff -- from editorial to audience development -- to think differently and try new things. You need new ways to drive new revenue.
Each week, best-selling author Andrew Davis will help you get the most out of your weekly staff meeting. He'll uncover another of the puzzling paradoxes in the publishing world and arm you with a Powerpoint slide you can use to inspire your team to rethink the ways you drive revenue, build audience, and can ultimately succeed in a challenging environment.