How Demand Media Is Infiltrating Major Media Publishers

A handshake in the shadows

Steven Kydd, the executive vice president in charge of Demand Studios, made the rounds last week when he visited New York, stopping at a lunch hosted by the Magazine Publishers of America, where he pitched Demand Media’s bevy of content (about 4,500 pieces of original content, for low costs, per day).

Kydd told us there are several major publishers who are experimenting with Demand Media but some of them are not ready to announce partnerships yet.

He did say Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s travel section and Yahoo! use some of Demand’s content.

So does Hearst, which has experimented with offering Demand Media content on their new beauty site Demand provided 10 articles, out of more than 1,000, on the site, according to Hearst reps. But executives at Hearst say Demand Media does not necessarily “power” their site’s content. Their own writers do.

For the past few years, Demand Media has been focusing on powering their own portfolio of sites, like and Demand Media’s CEO Richard Rosenblatt recently responded to name-calling about the company with a manifesto, noting his team is trying to find a way to make content production profitable.

Now, Demand Media’s next major goal is to supplement publishers’ sites with their original content, according to Kydd. In other words: They want to make friends with major media companies–for profit.

Kydd, a former business development executive for Yahoo! and internet marketing director for News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox International, sat down with us over a cup of hot chocolate last week, the day after he pitched to magazine publishers at the luncheon. He showed them a behind-the-scenes view of Demand Media’s technology, which allows writers, editors and other content producers to work with each other in one giant system.

He opened up his laptop in a cafe by the Flatiron and clicked through his slideshow. There are charts with data on how many articles are produced by Reuters and the New York Times in a day, compared with their editorial staff numbers. Demand Media almost doubles the amount of articles produced, for much less money.

Kydd said after he presents this slideshow, the first question he gets from publishers is: “How can I get a licence of this platform?”

But Demand isn’t looking to hand out their technology for a fee.

They plan to broker partnerships with an army of quality content patrollers.

Kydd said each article goes through about 11 checks from real humans before it even hits the Web. And “we qualify everyone,” Kydd said. Some might make some mistakes, as David Carr points out in the New York Times today.

But out of Demand Media’s 7,000 freelance editors, writers, and video producers, who make about $20 to $25 per hour working on content for the company, Kydd said each one is ranked based on their education, past real-world experience and how well they have done in Demand’s system.

Copy editors must have three years of real-world experience under their belt before they can work for Demand, according to Kydd.

Copy editors (there are about 650 working for Demand Media) grade each piece of a writers’ content before it’s published. They tell the Demand Media system if the writer has good grammar, writing skills and productivity.

Each writer’s profile also includes information on how well a writers’ stories do in traffic and pageviews.

Publishers will have access to those popular content producers, according to Kydd. Demand Media has a few Emmy award winning videographers at the ready, and veteran journalists from around the world, he said. These content producers are paid a slightly higher amount of money for their articles, he said.

Although Kydd was not prepared to name names of publishers who are considering taking on more of Demand Media’s content, he wanted to assure all of them that Demand Media doesn’t plan on taking over news.

“We’re never going to cover Haiti,” he said. But there might be a Demand Media article on how to purify water or how to travel to Haiti that might run as a sidebar to other publishers sites.

Demand might have a hard time shouting over the noise against the company. Tony Silber wrote for Folio: “Demand Media Can Go To Hell:”

I hope no magazine ever partners with Demand Media. In fact, I hope Demand Media and any site like it goes out of business.

But with staff cuts and struggling revenues, Kydd hopes he and his Demand team can appeal to them.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.