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

If I had to give the start of 2024 a Star Wars crawler, it would be this:

Content 2024: The Epic of Extremes

Volatility reigns! Since January last year, trends such as digital disruption by AI, economic uncertainty, the rise of Gen Z, W3 vs Metaverse, and political extremism are intensifying the best and worst of content times.

This volatile period brings both unprecedented pitfalls and nearly limitless potential to the Content Curious. Will they rise to the challenge?

How are these trends intensifying content extremes? This article summarizes exactly that, along with some key implications so you, the content curious, can prevail.

Updates on 6 Trends with Big Impact on Content

The following 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, then accelerated with the rise and continuation of the pandemic. (We’ve discussed this trend here and here and here.)  Now, it’s in overdrive thanks to widespread access to artificial intelligence. Companies need to address end-to-end digital customer experiences and remote or hybrid work with employees and partners. Every organization needs to communicate more effectively through digital channels.

Related: 4 Characteristics of Modern Digital Transformation – and Content Implications

2. Web3 vs Metaverse

In many ways, Web3 and Metaverse are competing visions of the future of the web. Web3 addresses control and access, touting a highly decentralized approach. Web3 also has become inextricably linked to distributed technologies like blockchain and, consequently, controversial cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency, and by extension Web3, took a major hit with the failure of cryptoexchange FTX and the massive fraud exposed behind it.

The metaverse, on the other hand, focuses on the experience of the web and beyond. 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, as we explained in our 2023 trends.

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 metaverse also brings up questions of access. While the Consumer Electronics Show featured even more AR/VR headsets and devices, mainstream adoption is elusive. Sales in 2023 were slow, and the price point for headsets and devices remains high.

In 2024, what we’ll face isn’t the realization of either Web3 or the Metaverse but the continued tension and conflict over what they could and should be.

Related: Content Omniverse Fact Sheet

3. AI Boom

Related to the first two trends, artificial intelligence, including generative AI, is booming. More 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.

Related: Artificial Intelligence and Content Whitepaper

We’re tracking developments in AI, including the potential and the pitfalls, in these articles and roundups. And we’ll continue to do so this year.

4. Gen Z

The rise of Gen Z continues this year. Gen Z is growing up, which means they’re 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 continues to grow, organizations will need to factor Gen Z even more into their products, services, experiences, and communications.

Related: Gen Z Content Consumption Fact Sheet

5. Political Extremism

It’s an election year in the U.S. at a time of political extremism fueled by conspiracy theories. The far-right activity will likely continue to drive 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, bots spreading conspiracy theories and hate, and intensification of hacktivism. In fact, World Economic Forum has identified the mis/disinformation driven by such extremism as the top risk in 2024

Responses from governments around the world in the form of more legislation and enforcement of it are likely this year. We’ve tracked highlights related to misinformation and disinformation in these roundups:

6. Economic Uncertainty

In the U.S., last year started with a fear of recession that never quite panned out. But trends 1-3 above are still driving tremendous economic doubt. World Economic Forum reports that “2024 prospects remain subdued and fraught with uncertainty.” Companies in the tech sector and beyond are shifting priorities, and that shift has continued to drive layoffs. The tech sector alone had a 200% increase in layoffs last year, and layoffs at Google, Microsoft, Snap, UPS, Citigroup and more have started this year.

Related: Training with Content Science Academy

Now that we have a rundown of key trends at work, let’s turn to some of the content extremes emerging or continuing in 2024.

5 Resulting Content Extremes

As we head into the year, we’re seeing the extremes of 2023 get even more so. 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
  • Use of AI by content teams increased 22%
  • 20% of videos suggested by TikTok search contain mis/disinformation
  • High Content ConsumptionChannel + Search Instability
  • People around the world spend 7 hours / day online

  • 53% of all web traffic is mobile
  • Twitter / X lost 72% of its value in 2023 due to lost advertisers and users

  • Google is devising radical changes to search to protect its core business from AI rivals
  • Content Proving ValueHigh Pressure for More Value + Scale
  • Extremely successful content teams report they regularly measure effectiveness and ROI

  • 52% of content teams have a leader at the director level or above
  • Layoffs in the technology sector alone spiked 200% in 2023

  • 46% of organizations are at levels 1 or 2 out of 5 for content operations maturity
  • Corporate Responsibility + DEICausewashing + Dark Patterns
  • 73% of employees say diversity is important

  • 73% of Gen Z shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainable products
  • TransUnion’s multimillion dollar lawsuits for dark patterns continued

  • The FTC and CCPA issued dark pattern fines exceeding $250 million against Amazon, Epic Games, and others
  • High Customer / User ExpectationsAntitrust, Privacy + IP Abuses, + Fraud
  • 92% of businesses are using AI to improve content personalization

  • 66% of companies see themselves as competing on customer experience
  • 100+ intellectual property lawsuits against AI are underway

  • 53% of buyers believe companies treat customer service as an afterthought
  • Sources: 50 Crucial Content Facts, CSR Fact Sheets, Federal Trade Commission, What Makes Content Operations Successful?, New York Times

    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.

    Related: Ultimate Guide to End-to-End Content

    So, there are tremendous opportunities and obstacles with the state of content in 2024. Yet when I think about the question posed by our Star Wars crawler, “Will the Content Curious rise to the challenge?” I am optimistic. We have learned more than ever about what makes content effective, what makes content operations successful, what content principles can help, and how to become more resilient. And that’s only scratching the surface. With such insights and tools and the right mindset, content professionals can thrive this year.

    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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