The Watering Down Of Quality

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If everyone can do something (like create an online video), doesn’t that mean that the overall quality of video production drops?

In fact, I was asked a similar question recently via email. The actual question was: "With the stellar rise of citizen journalist, do you think that there is a watering down of real quality journalism or can we all live happily together?" In fact, I would argue that the exact opposite is true. If more and more people can do something – like create a video – it forces those that produce videos to up their game. It forces them to be that much more creative and clever because now they don’t have to be better than the top competitors in their field, they have to be better than everyone else.

It’s true for video production. It’s true for journalism. It’s true for Marketing.

It used to be easy (ok, easier) for Marketers to get attention: simply outspend your competitors on television ads, place them on TV when the majority of the population that is in your target demographic is watching, make the offer somewhat compelling and you’re set. In a world where anyone can create messages about your brand (in text, audio, video and images) and can distribute them for next to nothing (thank you Intertubes!), the quality level does not drop, it’s the quantity level you have to deal with.

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: the Digital Marketing sphere favours the quality not quantity.

That doesn’t mean that there is less junk and irrelevant content out there (there’s plenty of that), but the best ideas still do spread (as Seth Godin would say). Consumers might say things like, "wow, there sure are a lot of videos on YouTube," or "this website has a ton of content," but what helps them get through the chaff in order to find the wheat is referrals (from those they know and those they don’t know), search engines and more powerful filtering tools (think RSS, news readers, news alerts and more). This is a huge opportunity for Marketers as we head into 2010.

Now, more than ever, getting the right message in front of the right people should be easier.

You just have to do the very hard work of being creative, being active within their communities and engaging with them (in a very human, real and meaningful way). It’s not easy to do, and only a few big brands have really ventured down this path successfully, but this is how things are right now (and how they’re going to be for the foreseeable future). It’s also not a direct-response type of strategy. It’s different, and the questions you have to ask yourself must shift from, "will this help us sell x amount of product this quarter?" to "what’s our business going to look like in three years if we simply ignore these very real changes?"

It’s scary. It’s not easy, but what choice do we have? 


  1. Very interesting post, Mitch. Definitely got me thinking.
    Not only do more content producers push up the quality from existing producers, as you suggest, but the greater breadth of content also means a greater likelihood of finding something that interests you as a content consumer.
    In that context I can see many opportunities for marketers to add real value to their audience.

  2. What a soup, marketing has become. The emergence of boutique marketing firms will just continue on as the mediums diversify…and now with realtime search comming onto the mainstream its bound to specialize even more.
    I think its not only quality but also promotional ability in the specific market that makes it or breaks it in the end. A more holistic view of the entire marketing strategy is required…the days where you could blast your way through with money is over allright…now you not only have to be rich, but you also have to be smart…

  3. The history of photography is a good example of your theory. As the technology evolved, it became more and more accessible to the masses and the quality of the images increased. If go on Flickr today, will see tons of amazing images that are posted by everyday people. It’s not only the elite that can produce value, but those that have talent.

  4. Definitely another way to think about it. I guess, like many things in life, not everyone that has a skill for that particular activity actually does it on a professional basis.
    This gives those keen amateurs a chance to shine against the pros, thereby raising the game.

  5. Good content doesn’t spread. You still need good marketing and a good network to spread your ideas. And then we have the problems of racism, sexism, ableism and a whole host of other -isms. I know you’re writing from a company’s perspective but marketing could also be about your personal brand. So a poor black woman from the South Africa might have a harder time cracking the big time than a middle-class white guy from Canada.

  6. I do agree with you to a certain extent. I’ve noticed that with more online content, especially from networks that churn out posts, Google has a tough time filtering the good from the bad. Many times I’ve searched for a topic only to find a really bad post about the topic, thus leading me to search again. Often times Google ranks these sites pretty high.
    I also agree with Joy above. I’ve written some great posts when I blogged for two startups yet it never got any coverage or comments unless I promoted the posts on social media sites like Digg, Reddit, etc. Good content needs to be promoted, no matter how well it’s written. But there’s also crappy content that’s heavily promoted and made popular because people can’t differentiate good content from bad. Just take a look at the front page of these popular sites like Reddit, Digg, Fark etc

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