It looks like Carol Bartz has decided that the way for Yahoo to survive is to add to the proliferation of content that is being produced for the sole purpose of garnering search traffic. That ‘content’ is often just glorified keyword wrappers that do little to actually help a reader but plenty to sucker them into an advertising trap. Oh happy day. The deal for Yahoo to purchase the content factory Associated Content was reported yesterday and is said to be for $100 million. Just imagine how many $5 dollar articles can be sourced with that kind of money!
Associated Content is well-known for its producing content on the cheap. Some might even say it is infamous for its concern for high quality ‘reporting’. Advertising Age reports
The deal, which will be announced later today, is part of an effort to shore up Yahoo’s content offerings and underscores the increased use of low-cost, crowd-sourced content, a strategy that AOL is pursuing through its SEED content factory, as well as by Demand Media, which reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to explore an IPO this summer.
Associated is in the business of generating a great deal of freelancer-produced content that can earn as little as $5 a story, and is optimized for search. (Examples of stories include “Guide to Reducing Stress in Daily Activities” and “Five Hollywood Career Revivals Waiting to Happen.”)
Now be careful how you categorize this kind of content creation because the people responsible for it can get a little testy if called to the mat for producing content that is less than journalist grade. I did a post in December of last year and drew the ire of Associated Content’s founder and president, Luke Beatty. His comments for the post included
As a firm believer in the idea that anyone is a content creator and everyone has the right to publish their thoughts and opinions, I totally respect your hostile commentary.
That being said, I am going to defend over 300K contributors who use the Associated Content platform to produce thousands of content assets every day. These people range from trained, experienced media professionals to first-time content creators with experience or an opinion to share. You assert that they produce “crap.”
That assertion that Mr. Beatty refers to is far from a lone voice in the crowd. There are many people who bemoan this new model that both Associated Content and AOL are specializing in which involves a ‘produce content and knock on wood for quality’ mentality. This technique is concerned about search traffic and advertising money with journalistic integrity being pushed to the back of the bus if it’s given a seat at all.
Also, it looks like AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong is the big winner in all of this due to his investment in AC (at least he was still invested in December of ’09). So he is now going head to head with Yahoo in the race to produce as much content as possible but at least he is making some money on the deal in both directions.
Ad Age confirms that producing high quality content isn’t cheap so the new direction for Yahoo gets them into another ballgame altogether in which they are already participating.
The deal signals a new approach to content for Yahoo, which tried an expensive, Hollywood-style approach under former studio boss Terry Semel, but has since dialed back those efforts to low-cost production of content such as Yahoo Sports and OMG, its entertainment-focused site.
So it looks like the signal has been given that if you find enough desperate people who will produce ‘content’ for next to nothing that you can get rich. Of course, one man’s getting rich is another man’s cluttered Internet.
Get ready for boatloads of ‘great’ content from Yahoo in the future. Can’t wait!