Content consumption is obsolete

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Background

The macroeconomics of content

  1. Supply reversion:
    The supply curve may shift back inward, meeting demand at a new equilibrium right at the fulcrum where the kinked demand curve turns from elastic to inelastic.
    This can happen for a lot of reasons. For example, producers could get washed-out or consolidated, having been unable to make the unit economics work at such high production levels. Alternatively, producers could cut output, shifting emphasis to quality over quantity.
  2. Positive demand shock:
    The demand curve may have its own outward shift (akin to the one the supply side’s already experienced), meeting supply at its new, natural equilibrium.
    Conceivably, this can only happen as a result of technological innovation that enhances content consumption either directly (e.g. biotech implant augments speed-reading) or indirectly (e.g. self-driving cars give us 2 extra hours of free time per diem).

“What follows digitization is deception, a period during which exponential growth goes mostly unnoticed. This happens because the doubling of small numbers produces results so minuscule they are often mistaken for the plodder’s progress of linear growth.”
Peter Diamandis (Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World)

Mo’ problems

I. The DISCOVERY problem

  • Professionals spend 26% of their workday just searching for content at work, and that time-commitment is increasing +29% per annum as more content gets created.
  • Consumers spend more time searching for content (21% of the average day) than actually consuming it (20% of the average day), which is amazing considering how much time long-form video like TV/movies/streaming/etc. contributes to consumption:
  • The average American regularly browses 12 sources of content, and Millennials browse a staggering 14 sources on average!
  • Content’s signal-to-noise ratio is weak, with only 22% of digital data even considered useful.
  • …utilization is even weaker, as we actually use only 5% of the digital data created.

II. The CONSUMPTION problem

  • Consumer preference is shifting toward increasingly shorter-form content, as tolerance for long-form decays.
  • Our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8.25 seconds (2000 vs 2015):
  • Only 9% of articles are read completely through, top-to-bottom.
  • Consumers complete only 28% of a webpage on average:
  • 81% of us skim the content we consume:

III. The RETENTION problem

  • Because our increasing cognitive load is crushing our memory, we only remember 10% of information within 3 days of consuming it
  • There are too many different silos in which we find and store our content:

IV. The COLLABORATION problem

  • While we prefer to consume short-form content, we overwhelmingly share long-form:
  • …and that exacerbates the inefficiencies of content consumption. Think of what happens when you share long-form with friends: you’ve already invested considerable time and effort to consume it, but now your friends all have to duplicate that sunk cost. In such a way, optimized social collaboration can increase productivity by 20–25%.

The need for real innovation

“When it comes to the future, the tricky part is less the ‘what’ than it is the ‘how.’”
— Ben Thompson (stratechery)

An example of demand-side innovation

All signal. No noise.

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