The Web Encourages Crap Content

The web is full of crap content because web content doesn’t pay.

Now, before I get hung, drawn and sent to Iraq for suggesting such a thing, let me qualify that statement. 95% of anything is crap, so it isn’t like the alternatives get off lightly, either. Also, some web content, particularly that which converts to a transaction of some kind, can be very, very profitable indeed.

However, I was thinking about the problem involved in producing good “quality” content. It is almost always expensive to produce, which is why YouTube, et al, consists almost entirely of people making silly faces. Again, there are exceptions, but this is generally true. People spend time, and that time costs. The more time they spend, the more thought goes into the process, the more the content costs to produce. When will we see quality content on YouTube, Google Video, etc? When we pay for it, in one way or another.

What’s my definition of poor content? Exactly that – whatever I think is poor content. However, I was in a bookshop yesterday, and there was just so much interesting stuff – so much “quality” content. I find that I spend longer and longer on the web and don’t come across anywhere near as much quality content as I do in the average bookshop, and the reason is that it is seldom worthwhile producing quality content for the web. Granted we don’t pay a lot, if anything, for web content, which is part of the problem.

I guess the moral of the story is, obviously, we get what we pay for. I guess that fact just doesn’t change, no matter where technology takes us.

PS: Irony noted :)

  1. SEM BasicsSEM Basics09-17-2006

    I sometimes wonder if as the web gets more sophisticated it will also get more commercialized at which point we will start to see content that we like more. It is true that one of the great things about the web is its democratic nature, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to great content. Perhaps the problem is that we want great content without having to pay for it, and that may not be realistic (or at least, not entirely realistic).

    All the best,

    Moshe

  2. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo09-18-2006

    Keentent – that is also true, and part of the point I was trying to make.

    The web drives down the value of content, yet the production cost remains the same. Rubbish content is cheap to produce, so offers high margin. Quality content is the reverse.

    The economics of push-button content are fantastic. The economics of thoughtful, quality content – less so.

  3. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo09-18-2006

    SEM Basics – agreed. The producers of quality content need to be incentivised somehow.

    At present, the incentive seems to be to produce volume.

  4. aaudetteaaudette09-19-2006

    Ironically during the early days it was remarkable how AdSense was able to leverage quality content that normally wouldn’t monetize. Now it’s turned into a great way to monetize crap content!

    I still believe quality content can be fitted w/ AdSense nicely and deliver revenue for publishers. Personally, as I’m developing a couple new projects I’m constantly changing how / where / if I use AdSense on the site. With so many MFA sites snowing the Web AdSense could eventally deteriorate brand image on legit sites.

    Here’s a useful post by Ken Evoy to the LED Digest title, “How AdSense Drives the Creation of Crap Sites”: http://www.led-digest.com/content/view/918/172/. A few months old but very relevant to your write-up.

  5. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo09-20-2006

    Thanks for the link, Aaudette.

    >>I still believe quality content can be fitted w/ AdSense nicely and deliver >>revenue for publishers.

    Yes, it can. However, I suspect the largest cheques are going to publishers who are heavily focused on exit traffic.

  6. aaudetteaaudette09-20-2006

    This is an excellent point:

    >>Yes, it can. However, I suspect the largest cheques are going to publishers
    >>who are heavily focused on exit traffic.

    It would be interesting to know for sure, but I’d wager the largest piece of the AdSense pie is consumer-related, rather that biz-related. Which would agree with your point above, since consumer-type surfing lends itself to exit clicks so well. Also, there’s the newbie factor that’s probably much higher, whereas with biz-related content most of the target audience will be familiar w/ AdSense and mentally filter it out.

    Still, when contextual ads are well-positioned and really relevant they actually *add* to the content, and then it’s truly a win-win.

  7. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo09-20-2006

    Aaudette, great points. I agree.

    An example is producing content so bad, and navigation so obscure, that the easiest and most satisfying thing to do is click the ads. A really, really small font and a dense text arrangement also works.

    Death of Adsense Report – Agreed.

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