Kara Swisher

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Demand Media Q2 Call Liveblog: Spam-a-Not

Today, Demand Media beat Wall Street expectations in its second-quarter earning, growing revenue and lessening losses.

The Santa Monica, Calif., online content maker also announced that it had re-upped and expanded its advertising partnership with Google and also bought two start-ups in social media and advertising.

Now, it’s time for the inevitable conference call to explain it all to Wall Street analysts and the media.

2:02 pm PT: The call starts off with an unusually jaunty CEO Richard Rosenblatt, who quickly got to the real deal: Exactly how badly did Google’s changes to its search algorithm, under a program code-named Panda, hurt Demand’s content business?

Not much, says Rosenblatt, who reels off a list of things the company has done to improve its offerings, which have been dinged by many as, well, spam.

Rosenblatt was not having any of that, talking about removing 300,000 pieces of crappy content and also “quality improvements” with partners such as cheerily demented cooking goddess Rachael Ray. She might cook with spam — here is a delightful Spam Hawaiian recipe — but she ain’t spam!

2:13 pm: Now it is on to the acquisition of IndieClick. Essentially: It’s for the young people.

Then, international. Latin America Demand editorial via eHow en español! (Actually, the acquisition of Emergincast.com, an Argentine start-up. Coming soon to a blog site near you: ¿Cómo se hierve el agua?

Last, social media. Demand will be doing a lot more of it, like everyone else in the world, including more recommendations. I would really like it if some Internet company said it was going anti-social.

2:18 pm: The finance guy comes on, covering everything already in the press releases. Which is why I am cutting out here and getting a gluten-free doughnut at the Whole Foods store where I am writing this post.

It is as delicious as you might imagine a gluten-free doughnut can be. Which is to say: Not very!

2:32 pm: Q&A time from the Wall Street dudes — and, let it be said, they are all dudes.

The first question is about the “cleansing” of its cruddy content and if it is all flushed out.

It might be baked-on sludge, but Rosenblatt assures that Demand has it all figured out.

Then, a query about international and how the company decides what to pick. Algo, of course! And local content writers.

Back to the spam content: Does the need to have better content mean less of it? Kind of, since there is a lot more video. But still a lot of content churning out of Demand!

A question about Facebook and how to program Demand content into it. Good lord, it’s hyper-poking!

“It’s not clear the best way of how you expand into all these properties,” said Rosenblatt, specifically referring to its acquisition today of both IndieClick and RSS Graffiti.

The next question is how successful Demand is in the display and brand business, and how IndieClick, a premium ad company aimed at niche blogs, will be integrated in.

More on social media advertising’s future. Aaaghh, this is as obvious as a store-bought-crust apple pie baked by Rachael Ray.

Rosenblatt notes that its flagship site, eHow, is but one means of distribution, but Demand content is going all over the place and winging by people when they least expect it.

“Social is more effective … to try to find stuff you didn’t know that you needed,” says Rosenblatt, who also would not dis search as a means of discovery.

That’s important, since Google is a major traffic driver and advertising partner, when it is not terrorizing Demand and others with its search algo version of Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor Snape.

And presto, here comes a question about Demand’s Google ad relationship, which Rosenblatt touts nicely.

Of course he does. It’s tastier than spam, after all.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work