2015 KPCB Internet Trends Suggests Content Shock Is Here

Over the past year and a half, much has been made of Mark Schaefer’s theory of Content Shock, the idea that we are incurring rapidly diminishing returns on content marketing. Part of the reason is the explosion of content being created by everyone. A bigger part of the diminishing returns in the Content Shock theory is the fixed amount of time people have to consume content:

Content Shock

Let’s take a look at this slide from KPCB’s Mary Meeker and her annual Internet Trends report:


What do you see here? Do you see Content Shock? It’s a little difficult in the original version, so let’s separate out the three device form factors and their hours per day of usage:


Look at points 1 and 2. These represent the inflection points in the curve of mobile device usage. Between 2010 and 2011 is when mobile content consumption really took off. 4 years later, in 2014, that trend is tempering. What if we looked at the data in terms of change? If we asked, how many hours per day MORE each year are people consuming content? Are we approaching the hard limit of time people have to consume content?


In a word, yes.

If you project out a bit, the likely number of hours people will consume content, given existing form factors of devices, appears to be about 6 hours per day.

Give that a moment’s though. 6 hours a day encompasses a fair amount of work. It encompasses binge viewings of House of Cards and Game of Thrones. It encompasses chatting with friends, reading, playing video games, taking and viewing photos and videos. Your content marketing has to share the same 6 hours as the activities people love to engage in on their devices.

This is Content Shock. Can your content earn even a few minutes of that 6 hour block of time? Does it deserve to?

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What’s working best in digital marketing? is the wrong question

I was recently asked what’s working today in digital marketing, what channels are most successful for me now. This is an odd question, when you think about it, and betrays a certain naive mindset. “What’s working best” implies that there’s a magic wand, a silver bullet that will fix your marketing woes.

What’s working best is governed by two things. First, skill governs what works best. I happen to love poached eggs and am terrible at making them. That doesn’t mean the dish is automatically a bad one; it just means I am relatively unskilled at preparing it. You may want email marketing to work really well for you, but if you’re bad at it, it’s not going to generate results. 


Second, as any engineer will tell you, use the right tool for the right job. There is no best marketing tool overall. There are tools that solve specific problems. If you don’t have the specific problem, the tools will be pointless. 

For example, social media is great for building and engaging audiences. If you have a new audience problem, social can be part of the answer. If you don’t have this problem, then social media marketing is a waste of time. 

If you have a lead nurturing problem, few tools work as well as email marketing. Properly and skillfully done, email marketing can reap enormous benefits. If you have a business in which lead nurturing is relatively unimportant, email marketing will simply be an expensive distraction. 

Rather than pursue a mythical ideal marketing channel, ask yourself these two questions: 

What problem do I have?
Do I have the skills needed for the tools that solve the problem?

You’ll arrive at business-changing solutions much faster this way!

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Are you my next Marketing Technology Account Manager?

One of the cliches I rather dislike is “That’s a good problem to have!”. As Chancellor Palpatine said once, “Good is a point of view,”. A good problem to have is still a problem, and I’ve got a problem you might be able to solve.

At SHIFT Communications, my problem is too many great clients and not enough great people on my team. Perhaps you can help me solve that problem. I’m specifically looking for a marketing management superhero to join my team in Boston.

What sort of person is this superhero?

You’d have Superman’s amazing speed capabilities to solve problems very quickly:


(ignore the fact that basic physics makes this movie plot resolution completely absurd)

You’d have Batman’s deep knowledge of tricks and tools to get the job done:


You’d have Jean Grey’s remarkable mental acuity to see to the heart of any situation and instantly know what someone else was thinking:


Telekinesis is a nice-to-have additional skill.

You’d have Wolverine’s infinite resilience to shoulder the toughest burdens and heal immediately, no matter how rough a situation you faced:


You’d have James Bond’s coolness under pressure and charisma to handle any kind of personality without getting personally involved:


(because really, as Ian Fleming wrote him, Bond is basically a sociopath)

Finally, you’d have Rogue’s ability to instantly learn and adapt others’ talents to your own, because while you may not have all the answers, you know how to get them:


If combining this army of superpowers sounds like it could be you, then I’d encourage you to apply for the job of Marketing Technology Account Manager in SHIFT’s Boston office.

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