We Might Have Hurt Demand Media's Feelings With All This 'Content Farm' Talk

Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt tells Peter Kafka that Demand Media produces high-quality content, and to call it a content farm insults its writers.

Wait, what? Haven’t we all done the “Google ‘How to roast a chicken‘” experiment? The sites Demand Media feeds, like eHow and Livestrong, basically necessitated the term “content farm” (In which a former Demand employee calls it just that! Also it’s sometimes plagiarized!).

With their initial public offering this week, it’s no surprise that Demand has an all-out spin campaign going. Especially after the official Google blog posted this, just a few days before the IPO:

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content. We take pride in Google search and strive to make each and every search perfect. The fact is that we’re not perfect, and combined with users’ skyrocketing expectations of Google, these imperfections get magnified in perception. However, we can and should do better.

At All Things D, Kafka explicitly brought up the Google post with Rosenblatt, who said it wasn’t about them.

The [Google] post talks about going after spammers and content farms. But when you guys think of content farms, you don’t think that means Demand, right? You’re thinking of people who take my copy or your copy, and cut and paste it, and tweak it enough to fool Google.

He’s talking about duplicate, non-original content. Every single piece of ours is original. Written by somebody. And I understand how that could confuse some people, because of that stupid “content farm” label, which we got tagged with. I don’t know who ever invented it, and who tagged us with it, but that’s not us…We keep getting tagged with “content farm”.  It’s just insulting to our writers. We don’t want our writers to feel like they’re part of a “content farm.”

So can you sum up your relationship with Google today?

This is why our partnership with Google makes sense. 1) We help them fill the gaps in their index, where they don’t have quality content. 2) We’re the largest supplier of all video to YouTube, over two billion views and 3) we’re a large AdSense partner. So our relationship is synergistic, and it’s a great partnership. And it’s a partnership that we’re excited to continue to expand.

Emphasis ours. Before we get worked up about how misleading this pose is, let’s remember that this coming from a guy who claimed “healthy profits” when he was deep in the red.

kstoeffel@observer.com :: @kstoeffel


  We Might Have Hurt Demand Media's Feelings With All This 'Content Farm' Talk