Demand Media – the Myspace of online content, or blogging by the numbers

Right from the top I have to own up to the fact that part of the post headline is a direct rip from Robert X Cringely’ post the other day about what has to be the scummiest practice I have seen yet when it comes to blogging.

Blogger’s are always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the credibility game and the stuff we write about but companies like Demand Media are a blight on the profession.

Who is Demand Media you might ask and what is it that they are doing that is so bad?

Well man behind the company is none other than former eUniverse/Intermix CEO Richard Rosenblatt. Intermix besides being being famous as the company that owned Myspace before it was sold to Murdoch’s News Corp is also famous for having to pay $7.5 million in fines for distributing spyware.

However what Rosenblatt, through his new company, is up to these days could be consider equally scummy. The company is in effect nothing more than a factory that spits out 4,000 articles and videos each and everyday. The content is based entirely on ideas that are the results of a computer algorithm that analyzes the keyword frequency from search engines and the ad revenue that each of those keywords would return.

Those keywords are manipulated into carefully massaged headlines by two people at a cost of 8 cents per headline. Those headlines are then sent out to the company’s raft of freelance writers who then pull together a couple of hundred words around that headline which then nets them $20 per post. These posts are then distributed out through Demand Media’s pipeline of properties or customers.

As Cringely says in his post:

If Demand Media’s methods become the way most Web sites generate content (and ad revenue), professional writers will effectively disappear from the Net. It will be just like when that meteor hit the earth 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs and leaving nothing but rodents.

But when publications are unable or unwilling to pay professionals to write stories or generate videos, we’ll end up with two kinds of content: the dreck that Demand Media is producing, or higher-quality content that serves the aims of the people who can afford to pay for it — corporations, powerful individuals, governments, and so on. So it’s either amateur hour or propaganda. Take your pick — not a very pleasant choice.

Like I said … scummy.