Friday, January 15, 2010

About Demand Media

I just published a quite lengthy post about Demand Media, on the pages of a forum I like to participate in.

Here is the text:

The mantra of content-oriented webmasters is often: create new content regularly, look for high paying keywords and topics, optimize your content to target these keywords.

I just read an artcile on Wired about Demand Media, and it seems these people have pushed this strategy its limits, but what was really interesting is that the company has distilled the knowledge we discuss on [...] into an automated computer algorithm:

To determine what articles to assign, his formula analyzes three chunks of information. First, to find out what terms users are searching for, it parses bulk data purchased from search engines, ISPs, and Internet marketing firms (as well as Demand’s own traffic logs). Then the algorithm crunches keyword rates to calculate how much advertisers will pay to appear on pages that include those terms. [...] Third, the formula checks to see how many Web pages already include those terms. It doesn’t make sense to commission an article that will be buried on the fifth page of Google results. Finally, the algorithm, like a drunken prophet, starts spitting out phrase after phrase: “butterfly cake,” “shin splints,” “Harley-Davidson belt buckles.”

I am a bit skeptical about the 2nd step, about determining the price a keyword will fetch for an ad. I thought that the only way to do this is to actually analyze your AdSense/AdWord for that keyword. Am I wrong here?

I am not too sure about the analysis of the potential SERP position either. I think all you need to do is a quick search for the keyword: if the top spots seems crammed with bang-on results, chances are you wont make it up.

But the strength of their approach is that they don't need humans and can thus do these checks and test and all other steps much much quicker at almost no cost.

What really irks me tough is the crowd-sourcing of the content creation. 15$ for an article is semi-OK (if it is 300 words for example) But 20$ for a video? That seems excessively low to me. I don't know why anyone would waste their time to give video content basically for free to these guys. I understand they control the means of publication, but darn that seems low.

Basically these people have made a huge crowd-sources MFAS operation.

The internet has its beautiful sides, but I think crowd-sourcing isn't one of them. It's good to give jobs to as many people as possible but it's wrong to use this openness and size to put employees against other employees with the goal of getting the lowest prize for human labor. If everyone did that, world economies would actually collapse.

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