04 May 2010

Emperors and beggars - The rise of content farms

(Economist)
A new brand of media firms dubbed “content farms” aim to produce content at a price so low that even meagre advertising revenue can support it. Clever software works out what internet users are interested in and how much advertising revenue a given topic can pull in. The results are sent to an army of 7,000 freelancers. They artfully pen articles or produce video clips to fit headlines such as “How do I paint ceramic mugs?” and “Why am I so tired in winter?”. Although an article may pay as little as $5, writers make on average $20-25 an hour, says Mr Kydd. The articles are copy-edited and checked for plagiarism. For the most part, they are published on the firm’s 72 websites, including eHow, answerbag and travels.com. But videos are also uploaded onto YouTube, where the firm is by far the biggest contributor. In March, Demand Media churned out 150,000 pieces of content in this way. The company is expected to go public later this year, if it is not acquired by a big web portal, such as Yahoo!, first.