Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series about the state of content and content trends based on highlights from Content Science’s annual webinar.

What does the Dickensian novel Great Expectations have to do with the state of content trends in 2023? Both feature contradictory extremes—and a few repulsive characters.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

What is driving these dichotomous content times? This article summarizes the content trends at play and key implications. The part two article explores principles guiding how to respond.

6 Trends with Big Impact on Content

These content trends are causing rapid change, tension, and conflict.

1. Digital Disruption

Every organization is having to change how they work to embrace digital. This trend was already happening before the pandemic, and the trend accelerated with the rise and continuation of the pandemic. We’ve discussed this trend here and here and here. It’s rolling on this year. Companies need to address end-to-end digital customer experiences and working with employees and partners remotely. Every organization needs to communicate more effectively through digital channels.

2. Web3 vs Metaverse

So, there’s a lot to love, to hate, and to ponder about the current state of content. Regardless of how we feel about it or how much we think about it, the reality is we have to operate as content professionals in this situation. But how? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but the Content Science team and I do have some guiding principles to consider. Don’t miss part two in this series or the full webinar recording.

The metaverse, on the other hand, focuses on the experience of the web and beyond. TechTarget describes metaverse this way:

Metaverse…is a shared digital reality that enables users to connect with each other, build economies and interact in real time.

Metaverse is associated with augmented reality and virtual reality, reminding me of an upgrade of Second Life. In theory, Web3 and metaverse could move along their merry ways and coexist. In reality, there’s a lot of conflict. For example, Web3 would inevitably have to impact the experience. It’s still not clear how a decentralized web would not require users to pay cryptocurrency every time they want to access information or functionality—like one of those shady mobile games prompting you every three minutes to pay more to play.  

As another example, the metaverse brings up questions of ownership. Facebook renamed itself Meta and has diverted many of its resources into not technically owning the metaverse but dominating it. The FTC has not had success preempting an antitrust situation in the metaverse by challenging acquisitions like Within.  The metaverse also brings up questions of access. While the Consumer Electronics Show featured more AR/VR headsets and devices than ever, their price point remains high. Only 23% of U.S. households have such a headset. Of those who don’t, 61% are NOT interested in trying one in the next 12 months

In 2023, what we’ll face isn’t the realization of either Web3 or the metaverse but the rise in tension and conflict over what they could and should be.

3. Tech Booms, Busts, + Changes

Related somewhat to the first two trends, technology innovation is continuing. And many people are more ready than ever to embrace it. For instance, generative AI and machine learning have been used in content contexts for at least a decade, in my experience. But when OpenAI launched the generative AI app ChatGPT at the end of 2022, 1 million users signed up in five days. 

Though generative AI is in the spotlight now, content technology is progressing in many other practical ways that will make the mediocre monolith CMS go the way of the dinosaur. I summarize 4 technology trends to watch here

Related: Content Technology Infographic

The tech booms and busts mean change. And not all of the changes are expected. For example. Microsoft has invested heavily in OpenAI to use ChatGPT with Bing. An AI-driven search engine that can meaningfully compete with Google has a slew of implications for content findability.

4. Gen Z

Gen Z is growing up. That means Gen Z is entering the workforce and evolving as consumers. They’re digital natives. They’re the most diverse generation. They want brands that align with their values. Many are or aspire to be influencers. As their share of voice and share of the market grows, organizations will need to factor GenZ even more into their products, services, experiences, and communications.

Related: Gen Z Content Consumption Fact Sheet

5. Political Extremism

Which came first, the conspiracy theory or the extreme political view? It’s hard to say, but we do know that political extremism, especially the far right, is continuing in the U.S. and arising in France, Brazil, Israel, and democracies around the world. Far-right activity continues to surface in extreme actions such as mass shootings, fabricating evidence to support claims of election fraud, storming capitols, repeals of abortion rights, not taking vaccines or wearing masks, chaos at Twitter, bots spreading conspiracy theories and hate, and intensification of hacktivism. And that’s only a few examples.

The extremism is triggering big responses from those who are not far right, even if they’re not necessarily far left. The European Union has continued to advance digital privacy and antitrust efforts, resulting in billions in fines and / or big changes for companies ranging from Google to Apple to Meta. Recently in the U.S., a coalition of states brought an antitrust suit to settlement with Google for $391 million, California enacted legislation for content moderation that carries big penalties, and the federal Department of Justice launched a huge antitrust lawsuit against the online advertising giant. Further, the FBI used new approaches to infiltrate and dismantle the Hive Ransomware Gang responsible for many high profile hacks.

6. Economic Recession

In the U.S., the sentiment is any recession this year will be mild. However, the World Bank has warned the global economy is “fragile,” and only one unexpected development would push it into a recession. Whether or not a recession really happens, concerns about a potential recession later this year are influencing decisions now. For instance, this trend combined with trends 1-3 and 5 above, for example, have contributed to a series of lay offs across the tech industry.

Now that we have a rundown of key content trends at work, let’s turn to some of the content extremes emerging or continuing in 2023.

5 Resulting Content Extremes

As we head into the year, we’re facing the biggest extremes I’ve ever seen. I share 5 in the table below, along with sample stats related to each.

We Have This…But Also This…
Useful AI + Ease of Content CreationMisinformation + Low Quality
  • 29% of organizations are using AI or machine learning in some capacity related to content
  • 2 in 3 American adults say fabricated news stories cause a lot of confusion
Rise in Content ConsumptionChannel + Search Instability
  • Americans spend 8 hours / day online

  • 60% of all web traffic is mobile
  • 32 million+ users are predicted to leave Twitter in first 2 years of Musk

  • TikTok banned from U.S. Federal devices and devices in 25+ states
Content Proving ValueHigh Pressure for More Value + Scale
  • Content resulted in 753% higher impact on revenue for a retailer

  • 52% of content teams have a leader at the director level or above
  • 58% of CMOs report their team lacks capabilities to execute their strategy

  • 58% of organizations are at levels 1 or 2 out of 5 for content operations maturity
Corporate Responsibility + DEICausewashing + Dark Patterns
  • 73% of Gen Z only buy from brands they believe in
  • The FTC fined Kohl’s and Wal Mart $5.5 million for greenwashing bamboo products
Higher Customer / User Expectations
Antitrust, Privacy Abuses, + Fraud
  • 50% of companies are trying to offer personalized experiences

  • 90% of Americans 18-49 say they ever buy things using a smartphone
  • The U.S. ad industry has lost 50%-60% of the signal fidelity from third-party identifiers

  • Americans have reported losing over $1 billion in crypto scams since 2021

Sources: 50 Crucial Content Facts, CSR Fact Sheets, Federal Trade Commission, Reuters


Again, those stats are only a sample. As you know, at Content Science we like facts and evidence. So you can find plenty more data in the sources noted.

A Content Microcosm

One way of crystallizing our content situation is this. We’re operating in a time where the sophisticated technology of the Webb Space Telescope allows us to see, track, record, analyze, and learn more than ever before about the universe and a range of scientific phenomena. (Not to mention view some amazing images along the way.) And we also live in a time where The Flat Earth Society is seeing a resurgence and even attracting celebrities thanks to a range of conspiracy theories proliferating on social media and the dark web. 

webb space telescope logo flat earth society logo
A view into space Image of the earth as flat


So, there’s a lot to love, to hate, and to ponder about the current state of content. Regardless of how we feel about it or how much we think about it, the reality is we have to operate as content professionals in this situation. But how? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but the Content Science team and I do have some guiding principles to consider. Don’t miss part two in this series or the full webinar recording.

The Author

Colleen Jones is the author of the top-rated book The Content Advantage and president of Content Science, a growing professional services firm that turns content insight into impact. She has advised or trained hundreds of leading companies and organizations as they close the content gap in their digital transformations. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications and training through Content Science Academy.

A member of Mensa and crusader against misinformation, Colleen has earned recognition as a top instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing, and a Content Change Agent by Intercom Magazine. She speaks about content issues in artificial intelligence, digital transformation, and customer experience at corporate and industry events around the world.

Follow Colleen on LinkedIn.

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