The Future of Content Creation
The proliferation of sites such as Examiner.com, Suite101.com, Seed.com, and Demandmedia.com, which provide evergreen content and deliver SEO content, certainly serves a market that is experiencing high demand. If people like Wengroff are correct, though, consumers will eventually grow dissatisfied with the general nature of this content or not find sufficient depth to coverage and demand deeper content of better quality.
Then, despite this initial gold rush for quick content fixes, advertisers will lose eyeballs and new models will need to emerge. Certainly, experiments abound, such as SixEstate Communications in New York. The company was started by CEO David Reich and COO Steve O'Keefe, who worked together at Patron Saint Productions, Inc., where they developed and refined the concept of "Newsblogging." The name SixEstate refers to the Fourth Estate, a term for the mainstream media that was coined in the early 19th century. The Fifth Estate is a term often used to describe alternative media such as underground newspapers, pirate radio, and even the internet and public-access TV, say Reich and O'Keefe. This duo believes that the Sixth Estate is the next step in the evolution of journalism, which will provide a new kind of news for organizations.
Newsblogging, says Reich, was created by his partner O'Keefe in 2007 for Kaiser Permanente, which wanted to grow its presence online in the area of healthcare reform. "Instead of ghost blogging, we set up a journalist to cover healthcare reform, basically for Kaiser Permanente," he says. The service grew from there. Today, SixEstate matches journalists with organizations, and they develop content on behalf of that organization directly related to news and current events, every day. "We don't see AOL Seed as a direct competitor for us," says Reich. "Just an alternative way of distributing content."
As in any other consumer exchange, those who use this content will drive demand and shape the business models for the future. Website owners that need content to generate visitors and fuel advertising have choices including hiring on-site staff or freelancers to create unique content or licensing content from existing media companies, arguably resulting in higher quality content but at comparably higher cost, and buying content from a content aggregator like Demand Media, or something in between similar to what SixExtate is providing.
Ultimately, Reich says, quality will prevail. "Quality is everything," he says. "Maybe you can make money selling ads with crappy content but, for the most part, if you want to build and engage your audience and really establish yourself as a leading voice in some area of subject matter, you're not going to cut corners; you don't sacrifice quality for keywords."
However, given the beleaguered state of the news media, the conundrum of "good enough" free content, pricing and format wars in ebook publishing, and the increasing power of search to reflect real-time demand and drive production, the content creation story will continue to unfold and undoubtedly has some surprising plot twists still ahead.
[Both Seed and Demand Media were contacted for this story. Seed did not respond to our inquiries, and Demand Media declined to comment. -Ed.]
Demand Media - www.demandmedia.com
Examiner.com - www.examiner.com
Frost & Sullivan - www.frost.com
Howcast - www.howcast.com
Seed - www.seed.com
SixEstate Communications - www.sixestate.com
Suite101 - www.suite101.com