The roots of the so called “content farm” are planted in the rising cost and popularity of SEM initiatives by brands and media outlets alike.
Search has become the primary means of information discovery in the US, with 17.6 billion searches being run on a monthly basis.
Marketers are spending more than $18B annually to reach searchers through paid search engine marketing (SEM).
Through brand bidding wars, the costs of customer acquisition through SEM are increasing 5-15% annually, sending marketers on a search of their own for alternatives to SEM.
As the cost of SEM has climbed significantly (see Google’s 29% quarterly profit increase for proof), we’ve seen brands wanting to invest in a different way, expressed in a desire to engage with customers more directly through content creation.
This has fuelled Demand Media’s growth ahead of their planned IPO. Demand will create custom content for a marketer on their eHow property (and other O&O properties) and wrap that custom content with the marketer’s message.
The downside for Demand Media is that when operating a massive network of writers tasked with producing a huge volume of content, it’s difficult to achieve consistent quality. Google’s decision will benefit searchers by prioritizing quality content, that actually creates value for the reader, over junk content that is simply meant to siphon search traffic.
Content farms have done one thing right: followed the consumer thirst for information. What they have created in response, however, fails to satisfy. A better approach would be to use a similar demand-driven model, but to invest in knowledgeable writers who create quality content that can truly fulfil what readers seek.
The content marketing industry needs to respond to the concerns of the consumer. We can create real value by leveraging a demand-driven content creation platform that enables skilled writers and editors. With this platform, content marketers can propel content that sits further up the quality curve higher in search results, allowing them to reach potential consumers with the good stuff.
By tapping experts like doctors and veterinarians and investment professionals and technologists, empowered with the same capabilities that content farms use, marketers can create a result that will not only reach consumers, but build a bond with them by actually answering the questions they have.