Content Is Not Worthless

I was reading Jonathan Handel’s column on “Is Content Worthless?

Ironic considering he writes for a firm that makes most of its profit thanks to “content.” :-)

Jonathan asserts there are 6 factors devaluing content:

  • Supply & Demand – Meaning consumers have less leisure time to enjoy content.
  • Loss of physical form – Meaning the electronic creation & distribution of content.
  • Acquiring content is more frictionless – Yes it is and we’re proud to be part of that technology distribution platform.
  • Most content is now ad supported instead of pay per view or subscription – He thinks consumers may demand that all content be free.
  • Market forces in technology enable faster creation & distribution of content that traditional media fears due to worries about revenue stream cannibalization. Yep.
  • Culture of a new generation hostile towards copyright. This is not a good thing.

Actually, I think the “Supply/Demand” thing is less about the “attention” deficit by consumers (you only get 2-15 seconds anyway) and more about the lack of high quality content. There is a true market demand right now for very high quality, low word count (less than 1000 words) content. Thin content only muddies the ‘content pond’ and makes it easier for us all to spot the very high quality content.

My message: “THIN CONTENT” is worthless and ubiquitous; “HIGH QUALITY ORIGINAL CONTENT” is king and will remain king/queen for a long time.

Your thoughts?



Perhaps his content is worthless…

Content is king and queen and thus royalty on the internet.

It has been, it is, and it will be.


Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 11:45 AM


Jan Verhoeff writes:

Effective content must have purpose, value, and quality. When I read a comment from a writer who claims to have knowledge about the Internet and yet, he devalues content on the Internet, I question his motives. Is he, perhaps, afraid of competition?

I’ve noticed that even what might be considered “low grade” content on the Internet has value and purpose. The Quality of Content often is determined by the reader and traffic, not consistency or quantity. If a writer has an audience his content will be read. We gain audience by writing for places where the content is distributed well and promoted.


Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 1:34 PM


Dave writes:

I think you are spot on with regard to content. I think most article writers are saying the same things over and over. As a result of the monotony of the articles being produced they are not being read or taken seriously.

This is true with e-books and most of the other “information” that authors are pumping out these days.

I think those people with real things to say need to step up and write classic articles, books, etc. that will get the attention of the information hungry public.

Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 1:35 PM


Edward Weiss writes:

Well … I always heard the number one reason people log on to the net is for information, aka content.

The second reason is to shop. So, based on that, his point is moot.

The internet is just another medium for accessing info. And in my opinion, one of the best.

Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 2:00 PM


Carl Chesal writes:

The article by Jonathan, might have been a similar lament when paper(Papyrus) became the medium for “the written word”, replacing stone and cave drawings.

Now the internet/web has moved information dissemination and retrieval away from the views of few professionals to the common masses. Free is good. That is why libraries were so important in the paper world to open up information access to the masses. The web has now exploded this access.

Paper covers rock – web covers paper.

The Medium is the Message.
-Marshall McLuhan

Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 3:06 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Dear Listeners,

Content is not necessarily worthless, some is. The fact that content is so often stolen is a real problem, meaning if you produce content, it is stolen immediately and then given away on blogs made for only AdSense, but Internet savvy surfers know that such content generally on those sites is garbage. So, even if your content is stolen and arrives there, indeed, there are fewer readers anyway. Google needs to stop allowing these types of garbage computer generated blod sites from being indexed.

Now then, on content being worthless, well, that’s not true, I recently set up a website and started offering commercial and small business blog content, the website has not yet been spidered and does not appear in any search engines, but, sitting in coffee shops, I already have lots of customers for content. So, something is worth what someone will pay for it, which would not be worthless, rather intrinsically valued. If the gentleman thinks content is worthless, that would be a generalization based on his observations and sets of customers.

You see, the chances of some writer getting $.25 to $.50 a word are very rare on the Internet, and the Writer’s Guide although has many people willing to pay for original content, each year shows that folks are paying less. Why? Well, print mediums are mostly listed and they are paying less, downsizing staff and use yes, “supply and demand” when buying, wouldn’t you?

There is an abundance of content, much is not so good, but a lot is. Sometimes folks write about things where there is already a ton of content and more is just not needed. Content sites that allow folks to steal their content, without regard do a disservice to content providers and content thieves are a real problem, but is content worthless? No, someone has to write all the content, there are billions of web pages.

And who says all content has to be flat and linear, there are needs for video and audio too. This site could someday benefit from that, or even by allowing clip-art or pictures to go with articles, that increases the value. ARA Content, does this, they place articles in magazines, much of wish is informational marketing pieces, like a lot of what is here. Free Information, with the byline for marketing purposes, its is a worthy cause and a WIN-WIN for all. Those who think not, do not really comprehend where the industry has been or see where it is going. Trade Journals have used byline articles for 50-years, and guess what? They still need content, and there are what? 8,000 of them? But there are billions of webpages, so do that math and then get back with me.

This is a good discussion, we should keep it going….

Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 3:14 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

One last thought —

First, I pretty much agree with Chris’ response and would like to warn Content Providers on the Internet. You people are so busy all trying to sell to the folks that you are running redline and more and more people are trying to enter the market. New entrants come and go, try and fail, thinking this is easy, it isn’t, this site although the top tier if not number one, has been in business for years. So, those get-rich-quickers, need to understand that you must work hard to be a winner of content providers.

Recently, at a Content Conference in Scottsdale AZ they noted that if you really want to sell content, its best to use other points of contact besides only putting up a website and using email. Namely; pick up the phone, call the customers PR department, go visit their PR consulting firm or go into businesses and tell them what you do. Network in the real world.

Indeed, I Guarant-F-Tee-You that if go to a Chamber of Commerce mixer and tell people you provide web content that you WILL get customers. I have gotten customers sitting around talking about politics, current events, innovation, business and the friggin weather at coffee shops. When the subject comes up, you’ll find that EVERYONE needs content, me included and you will find that even content providers and writers have let their own websites, blogs and such go, they need content too, and they are already in the business. Can’t you people see it. One customer who recently contacted me to assist them, is a well-known writer and author.

Now maybe I am just jaded because I have 13,000 plus articles and the ability to create 50 new articles each day, and I get unsolicited contacts each week. But, out in the real world is where you will find content hungry folks willing to pay for your work. Everyone needs content, but some people are so busy trying to sell to all the same folks that the the supply for those in the flow is abundant, while others are starved. There is more to life than the Internet, there is a real world with real problems and one of their problems is content. Solve that and you can live well and eat what you like in exotic places far and abroad.

Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 3:36 PM



The idea of ad-supported content is nothing new. Network and cable television and radio have plenty of ad-supported content. Some of it very good, some of it reality-TV.

But just like television and radio — perhaps even more so — the Internet has room for reader-supported content, subscriber and premium content.

It’s all good.

Comment provided April 14, 2008 at 8:20 PM


Lance Winslow writes:


Yes, I agree and I believe that folks who sell content ought to offer that content to those specific niches. If someone has all three of those categories, then they ought to approach each with a slightly different message and level of article or quality of content to satisfy those specific needs.

Comment provided April 15, 2008 at 2:17 AM


Kanan Jaswal writes:

Wow! I was simply floored by the spread and depth of the comments so thoughtfully made by so many.
The writer definitely deserves kudos for raising an issue which caught people’s imagination.

Comment provided April 15, 2008 at 7:43 AM


Lance Winslow writes:


Indeed and yet, still it is very hard for me to believe Content is Dead based on my own experiences and scoreboard;

Page Views: 6,000,004

Published: 238,603

URL Clicks: 22,419

Emailed: 1,190

Comments: 155

Votes:1,905 Live Articles: 13,089

Pending Articles: 20

Comment provided April 15, 2008 at 11:23 PM


Aakash Shah writes:

99% of my sites are information based and we have viewership / visitors based solely on our created content and Organic Search Results as a result of our High Quality Content.
We have never spent a penny on any PPC advertisement.

Comment provided April 22, 2008 at 10:19 AM


Shaun writes:

Some great thoughts and comments that have give me so much to think about. Great reading

Comment provided April 29, 2008 at 7:53 AM


Geoff writes:

Good, quality content is never worthless if it adds value to the site/blog whatever. And, of course, as far as the search engines are concerned, content will always be king I reckon.

Comment provided December 19, 2008 at 4:32 AM


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