Content Pollution: What it is and why it matters

Key summary

  • In a time when anybody can publish straight to the internet, the quantity of content is increasing but quality, according to some, is decreasing - causing ‘content pollution’
  • Print helps prevent subpar material prevailing in the physical world but has challenges of its own...
  • Gelato helps cut content pollution in both new and traditional senses

It has been suggested that we’re in an era of ‘digital and content’ pollution. In a time when anybody can ‘publish’ straight to the internet, the argument is that the digital medium has been flooded with subpar material.

It’s certainly true that online content is increasing; YouTube usage has more than tripled in the last two years, with users uploading 400 hours of new video each minute of every day.

On the blogging medium (which I’m using right now), 1399 other new posts will go live in the same minute as this piece is published.

With such low barriers to entry, where anyone can publish anything, it’s easy to see why such terms as 'content pollution' have emerged.

Some believe that the main source of the problem is content marketing.

The assumption is that most people are able to tell the difference between what is reputable and what is not, but the problem lies in poor 'branded content' that looks professional but struggles in substance.

There are still things that prevent the physical publishing of poor content. For example, the associated print costs and practical quality considerations can actually help stop a lot of poor content transferring to the physical world.

However, this barrier, which seemingly helps contain content pollution, has challenges in a more literal sense.

In a Gelato commissioned PwC study last year, it was found that overprint in companies, defined as unused printed matter, to be approximately 20% - 25%. This is because organisations often feel the need to over order materials ‘just in case’ and with good reason. Traditional print order and delivery can take up to ten days. Of course, the bigger the order, the more has to be delivered and transported often over large distances.

And when these materials become out of date, they have had to be disposed of. Who hasn’t seen stationery cupboards full of outdated marketing materials, such as posters, flyers and brochures?

Gelato works with its customers to achieve a 90/50 vision, whereby it cuts print transportation distances by 90% and reduces print volumes by 50%. Producing prints close to their final delivery address means lower carbon emissions and shorter delivery times. It also enables customers to order on-demand, meaning rather than ordering huge volumes of materials in one go, teams can experiment with - and order more of - what works best. Not only does this help reduce the total volume of print content produced (and cut transport distances) it helps reduce 'content pollution' too!