Is Demand Media the Facebook of Content?

June 6, 2010

Update: 10 48 am. Link error fixed. The goose screws up again.

Newspapers have not flowed into market for fresh content. The company that has emerged as the Facebook of content may be Demand Media. Most Web surfers don’t know good content from bad content. Google’s smart software also has a tough time figuring out if a comment from an addled goose like me or a highly paid azure chip consultant is “better.” Hey, those former journalists and PR people are much better than a water fowl. At least that’s what the 20 somethings tell me.

The reality of Demand Media is that the company can sell content and generate traffic. Have you looked at Cracked.com or eHow.com today? To get some insight into the Demand Media juggernaut, you may want to read the Ad Age story “Bradford: Demand Media Will Take Out AOL First, Yahoo Later.” If Ms Bradford makes good on her assertion, AOL’s Googler-in-charge may want to ink that Microsoft deal as quickly as possible and become a venture capitalist. AOL is a weak sister in the ring with Demand Media.

For this addled goose, the most interesting comment in the write up was:

Every marketer will tell you they do not have enough content. We are in phase one of “let’s tell our story.” We will package it and make it easy to sell and easy to buy for advertisers. How do we provide content and integrate it with them? We will provide content for brands. Tide, for example. We’ve integrated their point of view into our experience. We’ve had a Tide stain expert sponsor a section. We want to be the biggest, best destination for brands. Our goal ultimately is, No. 1, be bigger than AOL, and No. 2 to be bigger than Yahoo.

Net net: trouble brewing in content land. Here are the war zones:

  • Demand is emerging as the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature on steroids. Not only is it providing content, Demand has figured out how to let others index and expose the content. The Readers’ Guide was a great idea decades ago. Demand has leapfrogged the finding and accessing of popular content. Big implications has this action.
  • The people with Web sites are not able to sustain content streams. Sure, anyone can do a blog for a short period of time. But blogs are black holes for content. New info must be produced continuously. Demand is in the custom content business and may emerge as the info juggernaut that newspapers and traditional news services failed to become.
  • The Demand Media ecosystem is morphing. The company has technology, big name customers, writers, and digital information. These can be mixed in interesting ways. The competitors may not be able to match what Demand can do with its as-is assets.

Who can match Demand Media? AOL? Long shot. Yahoo? Long shot. Established publishing company? Longer shot. Established commercial database company like LexisNexis? Longest shot of all. Need reasons? Alas, not for free, gentle reader, not for free.

Stephen E Arnold, June 7, 2010

Freebie, of course

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