Anytime a new business or cultural trend takes hold as quickly as content marketing has, it’s good to pull your head up and see if you can learn anything from history. One comparison that is actually surprisingly relevant for content marketing is television programming.
Over the past 20 years, the number of television channels available to the average American household has quadrupled. Technological breakthroughs — and increasingly affordable HDTVs — have helped fuel that boom.
During this time though, the total amount of TV consumed weekly has stayed consistent. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, given the finite number of hours in the day, but what you might not have guessed is that the average number of channels watched per household has also remained flat.
Think about that. We have more channels to choose from, with more content tailored to our particular tastes. But instead of taking advantage of a wider variety of programming, we never expand our focus beyond a limited number of channels — even as we rotate around to different channels within our fixed capacity.
This means that any time a new TV network enters the market, each new viewer it gains means one less viewer on another network.
Which brings the analogy back to content marketing. The number of digital channels is increasing continuously, and without any theoretical capacity limit (unlike a TV channel), brands are pressured to publish more and more content, on more and more channels. But the consumers of this content (both B2C and B2B) don’t have any more time in the day. And they are only going to tune-in to so many different channels.
So with an unlimited capacity on the distribution networks, and more and more channels to choose from, it makes you wonder: can you win the attention war with more content? Or could it be that more content actually hurts you? Is there any correlation between volume of content and engagement with that content?
To find out, the TrackMaven team used our own software platform to do the richest analysis of content marketing to-date. And the answers we’ve found aren’t pretty.
We analyzed the marketing content from 8,800 B2B and B2C brands across 2013 and 2014. Cumulatively, this analysis included 13.8 Million pieces of content on seven digital marketing channels (blogs and social media), with a combined 7.2 Billion interactions.
Using this data, we aggregated the impact of brand content by channel, normalized by follower size and number of channels. Two trends emerged loud and clear:
1. Over the past 24 months, brands steadily increased their output of content per channel; and
2. The average engagement per piece of content decreased significantly during that time.
In other words, marketers are scrambling to keep up with the competition by posting more content across more channels. But the more we publish, the worse our content gets. We’re working harder, but really just shooting ourselves in the foot.
Here’s what it looks like, in one summary chart from our new report, The Content Marketing Paradox:
Download our full report today to see how brands are winning and losing the content marketing battles on different channels, and learn how the best marketers rise above the noise.