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Content may be king. At least that's what many companies in the business of producing content think for obvious reasons.
Take Demand Media, for instance. It's so confident that its content is an appreciating asset that will produce value over a long period of time that it amortizes the costs of producing content over five years.
But according to reports, some of Demand Media's properties have taken quite a hit in Google's latest Panda update. Although Demand Media disputes these reports, they raise an interesting question: is content an appreciating asset, or a depreciating asset?
It's a difficult question to answer. Not all content is created equal, and not all content is used by its creators in the same way. When speaking in general terms, there's a better question: can content be an appreciating asset?
The answer: yes, but not without a well-executed strategy. When trying to develop a strategy that produces content that appreciates in value, there are a number of things to consider.
Content that is designed to piggyback on the latest news and trends can often attract a lot of eyeballs very quickly, but it also typically depreciates rapidly in value over unless augmented by some quality (insight, entertainment value) that will be appreciated by consumers into the future.
For this reason, publishers need to consider the orientation of the content they produce: will it still be relevant two weeks from now, two months from now, two years from now? For content that appreciates in value, the answer over all three timeframes should be 'yes'.
For many publishers, SEO is of great importance. After all, many consumers discover content through search engines. But if content is going to be an appreciating asset, its creator shouldn't be overly dependent on traffic from organic SEO.
As the situation with Demand Media highlights, search algorithms change, and content creators can't assume that their content's stellar position in the SERPs will last. Instead, they have to assume that their rankings could drop, meaning that a piece of content's long-term value should never be judged solely by its current search profile.
Business models matter, particularly when it comes to content that is often discovered via search. Some business models produce far more revenue than others in particular situations, highlighting the importance of nailing the monetization game.
For most publishers, this means experimenting, analyzing and refining with a single goal: find the technique or techniques that maximize the profitability of content.
At the end of the day, for content to be considered an appreciating asset, it eventually has to produce more in revenue than it cost to create.
Obviously, this doesn't mean publishers should cut corners to cut costs (quality does matter), but at some point, there is the potential to go quality-crazy, creating a situation under which content's ability to pay for itself and more is significantly diminished. In other words, finding the right balance is key.
Spend too much on production, and chances are you're out of business. Spend too little on production, and chances are you'll never have a business.
For many publishers, one of the fastest ways to ensure that content can appreciate in value is to ensure that content can effectively and cost-efficiently be distributed to multiple channels.
Almost every channel provides revenue opportunities, and companies that are prepared to take advantage of multi-channel distribution will find it much easier to create great content that continues to bring home the bacon.