How’s this for Fast Media? This company aims to create 1 million pieces of original content next year….I couldn’t help feeling slightly thrown off when I read this Wired magazine article. The must-read article about Demand Media has been picked up by various other publishers and adresses a fundamental shift in the way Media content is produced. Sometimes you may not like what you read while at the same time realising it’s allready a reality. This is certainly one of those developments that will shape the way media content is created, moved and used.
Demand Media is changing the way Media content is created by using algorithms to predict what subjects will be in popular demand. It focuses on quantity before quality (for now) and uses a Global network of contributors to produce a vast amount of content. It then uses this content to build specialised sites and power third party publishers’ websites.
The company has embarked on a businessmodel that will impact ‘traditional’ media significantly. It’s also an idea that can (will) spread to other industries where a large part of the production can be outsourced to a community of contributors. With many Media content industries feeling the pressure of commoditization this businessmodel will accelerate that development and force companies to rethink their businessmodel…quickly.
Have a look at the blogpost by Allen Murabayashi about Stock Photography or the numerous publications about paywalls and paid content online. It is clear that media content owners and movers are struggling to cope with declining prices of content online, in many cases a reduction to free. For a large segment of Media content the power of creation is shifting from professionals to a huge global network of amateurs and semi professionals. These new groups are very capable of producing a number of interesting pieces of content about something that is close to their heart. Rather then a journalist or professional photographer researching a topic and speaking to the expert or taking their picture the expert can now tell their own story directly and create their own photo’s and video’s.
Demand Media is not only buying this content, it provides its community of creators with knowledge on what to shoot. By using a number of algorithms of which one is based on Google searches it produces a long list of subjects that people are reading now or that will be consumed in the near future. Contributors then go out and freely create content about those subjects, quality is not the primary focus. A vast amount of media content subjects is the key.
Demand Media then either builds specialist portals for interest groups or powers third party sites that use content to enrich their brand and message. The company operates over 65 specialist websites and powers over 100 newspapers with user generated content. It pays contributors between $15,- and $20,- per piece f content and generates 4000 stories each day. It aims to release over 1 million pieces of content next year. It’s allready beating many major media networks in terms of traffic to its websites.
Labelled a ‘content mill’ there are several other companies doing similar things; associated content, about.com, answers.com, mahalo and howcast but Demand Media is the most automated and most successful with $200 million in revenues and a claimed valuation of over $1 Billion. Like microstock in the photography business it’s changing the rules of the game. In fact, it’s likely that it will soon impact the microstock photography model as Demand Media contributors can easily upload photo’s and video’s.
Here’s a quote from the Wired article
“Here is the thing that Rosenblatt has since discovered: Online content is not worth very much. This may be a truism, but Rosenblatt has the hard, mathematical proof. It’s right there in black and white, in the Demand Media database–the lifetime value of every story, algorithmically derived, and very, very small. Most media companies are trying hard to increase those numbers, to boost the value of their online content until it matches the amount of money it costs to produce. But Rosenblatt thinks they have it exactly backward. Instead of trying to raise the market value of online content to match the cost of producing it–perhaps an impossible proposition–the secret is to cut costs until they match the market value.”
This move to ‘semi-automated’ creation of content is applicable to most media content industries, including photography. This leaves those industries only with an oportunity to create highly specialised, niche content while it buys its generic content from companies like Demand Media. Rather then thinking about raising paywalls and pricing pressures here’s a clear argument for companies that move content and content owners/creators to rethink their strategic focus and, most of all, the cost they can afford to create their products.
Here are some further resources about Demand Media
- Knowledge is the power behind popular eHow website – USATODAY.com
USA Today | October 26, 2009
Quote: EHow is also the answer to Demand Media’s core question as a company: How can you run multiple websites that are chock-full of content, without paying a fortune for it? The answer: Get writers and editors to work for little money upfront – but share generously in the ad revenue.
- The company just released a press release about its influence. The release gives a good overview of the metrics that are involved:
- “Demand Media, a leading social media company that’s currently the 15th most-visited property in the U.S. according to comScore, today announced that its publishing platform and community, Demand Studios, has created more than one million original pieces of content (articles and videos), making it one of the largest producers of content on the Web today.”
- The content is distributed to an audience of more than 80 million via Demand Media’s network of distinctive vertical properties which include LIVESTRONG.COM, eHow.com, Trails.com, Golflink.com and others. Moreover, Demand Studios creates content for major Internet destinations like YouTube, and traditional publishers such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- I have included two video’s that give some more insight into how the company thinks about- and creates content.
Picture: Stock exchange |Football |QuentinHouyoux