Interview: Demand Media Will Expand In Europe This Year

Web outfits hoping to become “the Demand Media (NYSE: DMD) of Europe”, look out. Demand is itself planning a European expansion this year.

Right now, Demand’s only location-specific site is eHow UK, for which it claims 10.5 million users. Populis, the former GoAdv, told us recently it wants to fill the gaps by becoming a content farm for Europe in all the other languages.

But Demand’s European sales and business development VP Stephanie Himoff tells paidContent:UK Demand will start filling its gaps on the continent from this summer.

“Through 2011 – and particularly in the second half of the year – you’ll see, in Europe, a lot more in terms of building the community and content,” she says.

“In the last couple of months, i’ve seen so many companies call themselves ‘the Demand Media of Europe’, like Wikio and Populis. Competition is good for consumers – we’re glad to see companies like Populis and Wikio are looking in to our model.” Himoff’s press spokesman chimes in: “We like to think that Demand Media is ‘the Demand Media of Europe’.”

They aren’t putting detail on the planned expansion, but it would be logical to guess at more national eHow localisations, plus the introduction of original-content plays like TypeF, which Demand recently launched with Tyra Banks in the States. “International is essential,” says Himoff, whose company is doing press rounds after emerging from its post-IPO quiet period.

eHow’s recent redesign, which acccentuates lifestyle categories in the same way some magazines do, was actually piloted on eHow UK, which was used as a testbed, before

This expansion is a “stage two” for Demand, which, over here, has concentrated mostly on its social media services Pluck, CoverItLive and social media monitoring advisory.

“Historically, we have been focusing on the social media platform,” says Himoff, who was Pluck’s European chief before its acquisition by Demand. “It’s likely to change. Now, we are looking in to expanding our media business into the UK, building a team, building more local relevant content for our audience and building relationships with our advertisers.

How about critics of eHow’s “content farm”? “We have a disruptive business model,” Himoff says, unapologetically. “Of course that brings criticism. It will take time to explain our business model.

Demand saw “no material change in our business” after Google’s recent algorithm change, she says. “Search engines change their algorithm all the time – that’s how they run their business – it’s a good thing, their goal is to organise information. We also want to get whatever comes from Facebook and Twitter, use all those signals to understand what people are looking for.”

Once that is done, expect more original-content media launches. “We want to provide experiences for people so that they come back after they’ve found answers to their questions through search.” Now who is Europe’s Tyra Banks… ?