Monday, December 19, 2011

Skyword gets $6 million investment

I just heard that Skyword, a company that produces content for brand-name companies, including Pampers, Bounty (paper towels), and Gather, announced today that Cox Media Group had invested 6 million dollars to "expand the Skyword platform to address new markets, and grow Skyword’s sales, marketing and client services functions." (That's from the company's press release.)

My take is this: The content site industry has two types of sites: (1) ad-supported open-platform sites, where companies create structured spaces where anyone can write articles about anything, and (2) broker sites, where companies bring together publishers and pre-screened writers and make money by taking a percentage of the writers' fees.

The open platforms are in trouble.  Google has been blasting at them for almost a year. Many have already shut down, and the others are struggling. The open-platform revenue-share model, in my opinion, is fading away.

Open-platform sites that encourage creativity and authenticity, and that set the bar high, with a genuine commitment to excellence, might be able to thrive, but most of the sites I've seen do the opposite -- setting "good enough" as the standard and applying assembly-line techniques to writing, turning articles into manufactured, predictable products -- inexpensive, but not really satisfying to a web-surfing public that can turn elsewhere at the click of a mouse.

The broker sites, though, seem to be doing well.  I haven't heard of any going out of business recently.  New broker sites are popping up, and some old ones are expanding. Textbroker, for example, recently opened a site for UK writers, adding that to its existing U.S., German, and French sites. And now, today, we hear that Skyword, another broker site, is going to expand.

I think for writers who want to work for content sites, the broker sites now provide the best opportunities.

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