The latest news in web content involves a veteran player and a start up. Yahoo has acquired Associated Content for more than $100 million and that gives Yahoo a new strategy for producing low-cost media content. They have paid $100 million for a bunch of stories about reducing stress, fixing broken garage door springs and how to make a home office look homey.
Analysts say this is good and bad for Yahoo, which tried a more expensive, Hollywood-style approach under former studio box Terry Sernel, but now are focusing on cheaper productions such as Yahoo Sports. But this low-ball content also contradicts the quality content that consumers and advertising currently have come to expect from Yahoo.
I am worried about whether this is good or bad for us as a society. Associated Content cranks out enormous amounts of freelancer-produced content paying as little as $5 a story. What does that do for a journalism industry that is already suffering from closings and struggling to find a viable financial model?
Bob Garfield from Advertising Age has written a new book called The Chaos Scenario. “The chaos scenario is the period falling between the end of mass media and mass marketing, and the ability for the microworld” –the realm of peer-generated and user-generated content –”to replace what we’ve lost.” He predicts that this brave new world will take away the ability for marketers to market to large numbers of people, and with that, high production value content.
What are we left with? Home movies about making home offices more homey.