Mashable March 2011
Demand Media is infamous for the search-optimized content that appears on its sites, including eHow.com, Trails.com and Livestrong.com. But these sites are not the sole focus of Demand’s recently publicized acquisition of live-blogging platform CoveritLive, says Demand Media CMO Dave Panos.
CoveritLive is set to release a game component next week that will allow third-party sites to interact with their audiences around real-time events. The tool will allow publishers to “create a sporting event within an event,” Panos says. CoveritLive CEO and founder Keith McSpurren calls it “live gaming.”
Publishers will have the option to reward readers with points for logging into live coverage of events and answering trivia questions correctly, betting (using points) and posting a leader board. Instead of moderators accepting a handful of readers or viewers to add comments to the discussion, which is how CoveritLive works now, Panos sees the new tool as a way to make an event interactive for the whole audience.
For example, a website could host a live discussion about the Oscars and have readers cast their predictions, with point wagers, for each category. Readers could see how their points for accurate predictions stack up against other readers, and at the end a winner would be named.
“Particularly in the broadcast world,” Panos says, “[publishers] are thinking about this multi-screened world, and they’ve been trying to figure out what they’re going to do.” The new solution, he says, is more affordable than what advertisers would charge for a custom game, and comes at a time when many web publishers are looking for ways to keep readers engaged for longer periods of time.
Demand Media will also leverage the platform for its own sites, hosting discussions with celebrity partners like Rachael Ray, as well as lesser-known personalities who can give hands-on advice.
CoveritLive brings an impressive client list to Demand Media, which has held a minority stake in the company since 2009. Fox News, ESPN, CBS, the BBC and Cnet are just a few of the many large media organizations that already use the tool, and events hosted on the platform attract an audience of more than 60 million people every month. About half of sites that host more than 5,000 readers on the event platform in one month opt to display ads from Demand Media in lieu of paying for the platform (those who have fewer than 5,000 participants per month can use the platform for free). The content creation company will now receive full revenue whether third-parties choose to pay or display ads.
Many sites, including — as the company is eager to point out — USA Today‘s Travel Tips, use Demand Media content, but most of the nearly 4 billion page views Demand Media collects on third-party partner sites come from the social tool it acquired in 2008, Pluck. Pluck is a social platform that adds site elements like comments, ratings, forums, blogs and other services, integrating Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, on more than 350 sites. Every time you check in on the Runner’s World forums, for instance, you’re logging a page view for Demand Media.
Demand Media’s third-party partners accounted for less than half of its revenue in 2010, but with the purchase of CoveritLive, third-party sites will instantly account for a larger portion. Armed with its new, soon-to-be competitive, real-time social media tool, Demand Media is forging ahead with an effort to increase its presence as not only a mass producer of search-optimized content, but also a platform for interactive site elements.