As journalism stalwarts continue to reel, Demand Media has been hailed as the possible heir to creating key media content. With cheaply bought articles that populate numerous “how to” sites, the company certainly has tapped into a money stream and thrown the media industry a serious curveball… or has it?
Let’s look at the bumpy ride Demand Media is on currently – and what this means to the world of public relations.
First, Demand Media’s vaunted claim of 80 million visitors a month (wow!) has got some serious holes in it. As the company is on the heels of an impending IPO, the perception – and reality – of its actual traffic is certainly questionable. And if there’s an innocent explanation about this matter, the company’s silence on the issue certainly doesn’t help things.
Second, the common understanding is that Demand Media is successful because its business model is crushing the competition. As with site traffic, the numbers on that are somewhat misleading.
Third, and most importantly, the question remains: is Demand Media’s content worth its weight? Is the information the company generates that good in the first place? Some of the content that hits sites like ehow (“How to eat a hot dog” – really?) is very suspect in value. If Demand Media is effectively a race to the bottom, can we ever expect it to be a thriving media enterprise?
We believe the lesson here is that no matter the new media platform, site, social media tool, widget, whatever – smart content will always, always be king.