If content is king, can $1 buy you royalty?

King of Clubs

Content is King. There’s no doubt that great content brings all the users to the proverbial yard, but at what cost? And to whom?

1DollarArticle is now offering 500 word articles for US$1 and, while it’s safe to say that the internet has disrupted a few traditional businesses, surely the price of good quality content is much greater than that.

If we take a closer look at some of the examples that 1DA has on-site, its clear to see the articles are shoddily written at best, perhaps even copied and pasted from other content snippets on the web. Mini publishing sites are convenient and economical but it has unwittingly lowered the quality of content because people apply less care.

Is this what it’s come to? Ordering our content from a sweatshop for a minimal price in order to sell our products? The barrier to entry now is so low, is this how far good content has regressed?

Google Panda and its recent Penguin update were meant to cut out sites that either harvested and re-purposed information or over-SEO’d their sites, but the results weren’t so cut and dried. One of the reasons the content cream doesn’t rise to the top is because Google still has some way to go with identifying and promoting original content.

And yet, Google has made it so easy to monetise any content via its ad networks which are effectively blind to the content. One wonders if Google is actually a cause of this decay.

On the publisher side, it’s increasingly harder to trust a supplier who has poor spelling and grammar. Granted, most of the times the supplier isn’t where I’m sending my child to school, but if they’re prepared to cut corners on content – what’s to say they haven’t cut corners with your product or service?

In ten years time when the web is cluttered with low quality content, what will it mean for the web itself? Will we see a decline in online sales? Will Google do a Yahoo!? Or will product owners awaken to the fact that the only people they’re cheating are themselves?

Enter Biz Stone and Ev Williams who just can’t seem to get out of the publishing business. Their latest venture is a startup called Medium. The idea behind it is to curate ad collect content around a certain topic, much the same way as Pinterest does for content that housewives love. According to Williams:

“Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced.”

What Medium shows us, is that poor-quality content is at least being recognized and fought against. If Google is going to continue to be relevant, it has to make a way to differentiate between serious media sites (that make their living on quality content) and amateurish sites that push low quality content. I’m sure it’s a lot harder than it seems, but that’s why it makes double-digit billions of dollars every quarter.



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