The Prostitution Of Content: Is dumbing down the repercussion of good marketing?

Are you looking for quality content? Originality and fresh new perspectives? Well then, you should be looking for things that are unpopular and hard to find. Things that you do not normally find on the first Google search result page.

Popular things are usually lacking depth,and may even be stupid and simplistic: here is why.

In this article I will not talk about alternative measurements of Intelligence and I will accept IQ as a somewhat reliable assessment of one’s mental acuity. I know this is not entirely true but that’s a discussion for another time.

Lowest common denominator, the science of stupid

First of all we have to understand what constitutes as average IQ.

According Wikipedia: “Approximately 95% of the population have scores within two standard deviations (SD) of the mean. If one SD is 15 points, as is common in almost all modern tests, then 95% of the population are within a range of 70 to 130, and 98% are below 131. Alternatively, two-thirds of the population have IQ scores within one SD of the mean, i.e. within the range 85-115.”

-Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient#Modern_tests

Therefore the mathematical average of the IQ is by definition 100.

However, reality is not a mathematical equation. Economic factors strongly influence intelligence and most people are living in developing countries.

Developing countries also have the highest fertility rate, and many developed countries are actually experiencing negative population growth. Therefore the expected Bell curve of global IQ distribution is distorted and skewed. Currently the mean IQ of the world is 88.49 ! – Source: http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/IQ/1950-2050/

Most of my visitors  at the website and most of my clients are from developed countries, generally from North America and Europe. Therefore their average IQ is more than likely to follow a normal distribution: on average slightly over 100 IQ.

If one of my average visitors was to have a cup of tea and a friendly chat with a man with the mean IQ of the world, he would undoubtedly find him charming but naïve.  He would definitely notice, that this man is not the brightest apple in the bunch with an IQ of 88.5.

You could say that the average man on the planet does not have internet access and therefore it does not matter, when we are talking about the digital population.

You are right, for now.

Currently the global internet penetration according to the International Telecommunication Union shows the following distribution:

20072011
World population6.6 billion7.0 billion
Fixed subscriptions5.3%8.5%
Developing world2.3%4.8%
Developed world18.3%25.7%
Mobile subscriptions4.0%17.0%
Developing world0.8%8.5%
Developed world18.5%56.5%
.-Source: International Telecommunication Union http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/at_glance/keytelecom.html

Not too bad, and it means that you, as an internet participant, are part of a much more elite and intelligent community than the offline world.

/As hard it is to believe considering all the trolls and youtube comments/

But by the time half of the developing world will be wired (sometimes before 2020; the date varies depending on the source and the different methods of calculation) the average IQ will sink to an astounding 92 on average, online!

Significant decrease indeed. It is only a rough estimate, since the Flynn effect predicts that the global IQ will constantly increase. However such an increase is only observed so far in developed countries and, even more specifically,  in urban areas. Whether this changes over time remains to be seen. Therefore I did not calculate with it.

Business of stupidity, blog management rethought

This is when its importance to business comes in! Imagine you are the marketing manager of a busy website, which publishes content in many categories and appeals to a wide audience. You are tasked with increasing traffic.

You have quality content, written by educated intelligent writers and contributors and you have high standards.

The logical step in this case is to try to find the lowest common denominator of your target audience, since specialization in a niche would result in significantly less traffic. If you have an English website you have to adjust your content to a global audience. Right now the average IQ of the online global audience is: as discussed 95.

From a mathematical point of view if you want to maximize the potential visibility of content you have to engage in the “prostitution of content”. You have to go one standard deviation below the average IQ so that 95% of your visitors will fall into the defined category. This makes sense mathematically (statistically) speaking and it is true if the sample size is large enough.

This gives us a target score of 80, which is just 10 points above mental retardation! And by 2020 the target score will be 77.

How scary is that?

If you want to increase traffic (for simplicity’s sake let’s say revenue is proportional with traffic), you had better get your articles written and proofread by less intelligent people. This is not a joke.

Based on my experience, as much as 70% of all the content published on online blogs is written by a team and not by a sole individual (despite claims to the contrary and Google authorship). Most likely that team has at least one smart marketing professional. One smart marketing professional, who knows about this issue of worldwide IQ, or at least suspects it.

So next time you are reading a website, if you think to yourself, “This website feels like it was made for idiots” –  you are probably right.

Feeding the monster, long-term repercussions of good marketing

If this wasn’t enough, it is suspected that higher IQ individuals experience a temporary drop in IQ if they are within the company of lower IQ individuals for a long period of time.

So one long-term consequence of good marketing/content management/blog management is the possibility that the worldwide horde of imbeciles will not understand your content. And these people will continue to multiply, perpetuating stupidity. A thought too scary to contemplate.

I believe one of the biggest challenge of blog management and content marketing is how to solve this conundrum. How to be successful without dumbing down.

Solution

There is a solution.

For a marketing professional trying to make money online, things are not as easy, but you probably used to it by now. I will write an article detailing ways on how to get more traffic while still avoiding this trap of dumbing down, the trap of the lowest common denominator.

Stay tuned!

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