Distribution or content: which is king?

bk_crowncardTheKing_en_01Is distribution king, not content?

That’s the question posed here by Alana G.

Consider a simplified 2×2 matrix: content is either good or bad and distribution is either good or bad. Bad content with bad distribution is going nowhere. Good content with good distribution is in the best position to succeed. But there’s a lot of sports content that lives in the other two quadrants. There are distribution resources being wasted on bad content, and there are plenty of small bloggers making good content with bad distribution. This last category of unseen content may be even better quality than some of the content with good distribution, but this content will not float to the top on its own. [Source]

I like this 2X2 model of bad/good content and bad/good distribution.

A couple points come to mind. One, I think good content can develop distribution more easily.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, distribution is faster than content at bringing in traffic. That is, good content over years can develop distribution. Distribution could immediately build traffic for bad content. One seems more likely to last and I think that’s why the “content is king” maxim has some veracity — but only for those truly willing to invest time.

There’s an entire cottage industry of spammy marketing agents and SEO experts who talk about speed and churn — that’s where distribution needs to play a much larger role if you expect to gain real eyeballs.

It’s also a question of the value of high traffic, as some are starting to see more value in lower traffic but focusing on different metrics, like time on site, repeat visitors, bounce rate etc. Those SEO experts want traffic for Google adsense or whatever other scam, so distribution is key.

High traffic may be an entirely different game than what most should be playing. For the rest of us, content is certainly king and distribution focus will be the playland of what few national sites and blogs might remain going forward.

Below, dude gives today’s pretty traditional understanding of this “content is king” take. Note how he seems to dismiss distribution. Unless you’re willing to devote the serious time to building an audience, content might, indeed, be side-stepped for distribution.