Digital Content: The Good, The Bad, and The Deceptive

A surprising look at how digital content is delivered and how it’s received.

Thanks to the emergence of smart phones and tablets, the way that web content is presented has changed forever. But not all content is consumed equally.

A 2015 digital study by Reuters Institute shows that 25% of all people say that they get a majority of their news from smartphones. Interestingly enough, a large portion of people use Facebook for their news (41%) but what’s not surprising is that Facebook referrals to top sites has grown (42%). What we can draw from these findings are that third party platforms (Facebook Instant Article, Apple News) are quickly becoming the frontrunners in the digital sphere.

As the rate at which content is being consumed continues to exponentially grow, it’s important to understand that the amount of content being produced must keep up. Legacy brands like The Guardian & The New York Times have had to work relentlessly to not only adapt their format successfully into the digital realm, but also continue to grow with it. This isn’t quite as simple as having an app and writing great articles – it also requires meeting the volume demands for content.

Additionally, some content providers have a hard time winning over younger generations as they respond differently to digital content than older demographics. Its been well documented that the majority of people will never opt to pay for digital news (66%). One trick that big brands have resorted to is the use of Sponsored Content. Sponsored Content or “native advertising” is considered a deceptive tactic utilized by big brands to dress up ads as organic content within a publication. Some argue that this a way to drive user engagement while others feel that it’s a sneaky ploy by companies to push advertisements under the guise of real content. Make a judgment for yourself by examining both arguments here and here.

Native Advertising is thought to hurt brand trust and loyalty and because of this, publishers could now be hard-pressed to provide honest content while trying to combat the economic problems associated with providing free content.

The positive side-effect of the overwhelming demand is the competitiveness it breeds. Publishers must find the ideal way to deliver news to their audience that is quick, honest, and cost effective.

As the Facebooks and Twitters of the world lead the charge in content delivery, other companies are trying to avoid being phased out entirely. Although we won’t see publishers like The New York Times or The Atlantic going anywhere anytime soon, we surely know that the fight is vastly different than it was just a few years ago.