• http://www.tenorpartners.com Matthew Stotts

    Demand Media is the Cat Fancy (or rather BowTie Media) of web content – everyone looks at it and says “people actually read that?” They actually do — and do so by the millions. I love the mock-up, but doesn’t it look rather more like the front page of Techmeme where nearly every title that promises a newsworthy nugget is hedged with a “?”.

    At Twiistup in LA last year, Demand Media’s CEO, Richard Rosenblatt explained how the system they have built could be used to run profitable newspapers. When later he said that he loved newspapers, I asked from the floor if he had considered licensing his technology to a struggling paper like the LA Times. He demurred. Maybe because he’s more capitalist than philanthropist (i’m sure his shareholders think so), but maybe because he doesn’t think “The New York Times by Demand Media” is that far off. At least now he has a good mock-up to share with his UX team.

    Thanks as always for putting so much thought and time in to these posts.

  • http://www.engagesocialmedia.com Erik Bratt

    Great post Danny, I wasn’t sure exactly what Demand Media was doing. Now I know. Impressive how they optimize content.

  • horsegal148

    I would like to note a correction: About.com is not a content mill. All the content on About.com is written by certified experts. It isn’t just uninformed garbage like a lot of what you find from Demand Media and the other “content mills.” A content mill is content produced en mass with no thought to the quality or context. About.com has been around for 12 years… long before the content mill explosion.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Well, it’s an opinion rather than a correction. Demand Media would tell you they have experts who produce great content, too. As I said, About has plenty of great content. It also has some bad content. To me, perhaps its biggest problem is how it can turn anything needlessly into a multiple part story. Really, 7 individual pages needed to explain how to fix a tail light?

    But rest assured, I know About.com — two of our editors here were former About.com guides who did a great job there. Glad we have them here.

  • antifarm

    Well here is another opinion:
    The fact that about.com has been around for 12 years doesn’t mean that it isn’t a content farm. It is and always has been a content farm and it guilty of giving the idea of farming content to all the other farms.

    Most of About.com’s experts are self certified (either by themselves or by about.com) but that doesn’t make them experts. A big part of About.com’s content is pretty useless, lacks credibility, and is there to capture (successfully) SEO traffic and then monetize it via Google or display ads. Also the content farms financial model, of paying the content creators based on how popular is their content, is inspired by About.com.

    It is not a coincidence that the NYTimes company was never very proud of About.com’s content and never featured any of it on their flagship site. Almost nobody besides the people who work at About.com thinks much of that content.

  • http://www.samsunmonu.wordpress.com Samuel Sunmonu

    The whole Google, NY Times, Demand Media conversation is really interesting. I wouldn’t consider myself the “average” internet user but I still find articles on so-called “content farms” useful.

    I also don’t think it’s all that bad that sites like Demand Media and About write articles based off what people are searching, rather than current events.

    Content providers that report on current events will not be going away, far from it. Just look at how Twitter is more and more being used for breaking news, rather than being a social network.