Mostly, Demand makes its money paying lots and lots “content contributors” a little money to write “how-to” articles for domains like eHow.com and Wine.com. These articles are written so that they will appear high-up in Google search results. Demand collects ad dollars off the traffic.
A new report from MediaShift seems to confirm some of these fears. In the story, a recent J-school graduate describes how, after getting out of her program, she wrote for Demand to earn a couple bucks between more serious freelance gigs.
PBS: The articles she wrote — all of which were selected from an algorithmically generated list — included How to Wear a Sweater Vest” and How to Massage a Dog That Is Emotionally Stressed,” even though she would never willingly don a sweater vest and has never owned a dog.
“I was completely aware that I was writing crap,” she said. “I was like, ‘I hope to God people don’t read my advice on how to make gin at home because they’ll probably poison themselves.’
“Never trust anything you read on eHow.com,” she said, referring to one of Demand Media’s high-traffic websites, on which most of her clips appeared.