Demand Media CEO Brushes Off Google's Algorithm Switch


When Richard Rosenblatt, co-founder and CEO of Demand Media, heard that Google was changing its algorithm—seemingly with the intent to weed out content produced by companies like his—he didn’t panic. Rather, he shrugged.

In fact, Rosenblatt believes that Google’s announcement really wasn’t targeted at Demand, but companies that don’t churn out a lot of original content (something Demand does a lot of).

“Nothing changed materially for our business,” said Rosenblatt, delivering the opening keynote on Tuesday (March 1) at day three of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual meeting in La Quinta, Calif.

Though Demand did respond last week with a statement—its first public commentary since the company’s recent IPO—Rosenblatt believes Google’s move was blown out of proportion.  “We cannot be commenting every time Google makes an algorithm change. It’s just one component of our ecosystem. We’re fine. We’re just trying to create quality content.”

It’s the quality of Demand’s content that many journalists and industry analysts have harped on ever since the company emerged. Rosenblatt didn’t deny that Demand’s model is based on producing content based on what people are searching on—however minute or frivolous. But he took pains to defend Demand’s editorial process and output.

“We really are a company that is focused on data and listening to the consumer,” he said. "But 14 humans touch every single piece of content. . . . There isn’t anybody else [in this industry] that has copy editors.”

Yet despite the employment of copy editors and thousands of freelancers, Rosenblatt attempted to defend criticisms that its model is accelerating the demise of journalism.

What Demand does—answering consumers questions—“is not journalism,” said Rosenblatt. “The only people that call us journalists are journalists.”

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