Tonight, we discussed the Harvard case study on Demand Media (of eHow.com fame) in my Social Media Marketing MBA class. It is a fascinating story about how content can be systematically produced on a vast scale and result in almost guaranteed demand from viewers and consequently also in profits for the advertisers.
The controversy regarding so-called “content farms” revolves around the opportunistic creation of content to meet current demands but doing so in a way that compromises content quality some claim. For example, Jeff Jarvis called Demand Media on this as he stated that they “create crap just good enough to fool the algorithm.” Google’s search algorithm, that is. Clearly, Jeff Jarvis has a point in that somewhere, a line in the sand has to be drawn, and it is also clear that Demand Media is not striving toward writing dissertations on the topics they address.
The idea to develop and publish content that is likely to be searched has now been gaining traction for a number of years with bestselling books such as “Inbound Marketing” by the cofounders of HubSpot. What strikes me with this case, though, is the level of sophistication that seems to lie behind the proprietary algorithm used by companies such as Demand Media as they try to expedite the statistical analysis of search trends, paid ads, and statistics from social networks to get the order for the right content out there as soon as possible. See how Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt defends his model:
Then, of course, someone has to produce the said content and the identification and recruitment of a vast stable of relevant content creators clearly represent another necessary strength needed in this space. It becomes clear that for one’s own postings to be noticed for popular keywords, one has to be both fast and clever in terms of how posts are tagged and outlined 🙂