Demand Media (NYSE: DMD) has launched its latest celebrity backed site, the Tyra Banks’ beauty and fashion blog typeF this week, but the company hasn’t forgotten its primary traffic driver, eHow, which just got its own makeover. Aside from the new, more defined topic sections, the site has also added a “helpful?” button designed to improve the quality of the posts by alerting editors to shoddy posts which have often served as evidence for those crying “content farm” at the company.
As part of its redesign, eHow has six primary channels: Home, Money, Style, Health, Family and Food. It’s also looking to do more magazine-like feature articles and longer videos, produced by writers and filmmakers from Demand Media Studios. An example of this broadening aspect is going to start with its Food channel, which is debuting a high-def video show called Curbside Eats and is centered around the “food truck” culture that’s been attracting a lot of attention in major cites.
With the launch of Banks’ typeF, the former supermodel joins recent celebrity editors lending their names and brands to Demand Media, including Lance Armstrong for Livestrong, and Food Network star Rachel Ray for the Demand’s Food channel.
Asked about whether all these moves are meant to counter the perception of Demand as a “content farm” as well as beat back other blog networks attempts to pull in celebrities — AOL (NYSE: AOL) recently struck partnerships with Queen Latifah and Heidi Klum for its women’s programming — Demand execs say it sees itself as filling in gaps as opposed to competing directly against others.
“‘Content farm’ has never been a label we’ve regarded ourselves with,” said Lisa Kraynak the new GM oft typeF.com (previously SVP of Digital Media for NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) Universal) in an interview with paidContent. “We see ourselves as offering something separate and apart from what others do. For example, we’ve brought in [Vogue contributing editor] André Leon Talley who just shot a seven-episode series of videos for us. Now, the idea of Demand is to give readers practical advice. Vogue is a great magazine, but it is interested in showing women what’s hot, not necessarily what’s practical.”
“Looking at trad media folks, they haven’t succeeded in growing their audience by doing the same things in print that they do online,” added Larry Fitzgibbon, EVP of Media & Operations for Demand. “That approach doesn’t work; ours does. We have millions of people a month coming to eHow. We want to highlight verticals that map well that people want and advertisers want.”
In terms of giving the people what they want, the next refurbishing project for Demand involves humor site Cracked, the 50-year-old humor property that the company bought in 2007 after it stopped publishing in print. “The site is already bigger than The Onion and College Humor. There’s a lot that we can build on, especially in the area of video.”