The new focus on content production at scale: quantity versus quality

The past week has been an interesting one for the online content space. First, Wired published a detailed profile on Demand Media and their “answer factory”. Then, Techcrunch reported that AOL is following suit trying to turn AOL into a low cost content production machine. Other existing players in this space consist of About.com, AccociatedContent and certainly our own portfolio company Suite101.com. So why this sudden focus on online content production at scale? There are a few reasons why this vertical is so attractive for an increasing numbers of players:

  • There is a fast-growing demand for long-tail content that can be accessed very efficiently through search.
  • As online content is generally harder to monetize than offline content, the only viable approach is to focus on economies of scale and minimizing the cost of the content generation – distributing the content production through a network of thousands of (freelance) experts from around the world is one way to generate high quality content without having to have an expert on staff for each topic.
  • Based on immediate feed-back loops about what content is being read by users, content generation can be driven based on actual readers’ demand not assumptions about that demand.

It is exciting times for the online content space as it is revolutionising content creation models that haven’t changed for decades. And while the quantity of content being generated is an important success factor, the quality of it will decide the long-term success which is a balance that each of these players has to strike every day. Suite101.com thrives to be the leader on the quality front and it definitely translates into great feed-back from the most important element of it all: the writers producing the content.

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