Demotivator, the media that overturns the rules of the game

by bold-lichterman

Appeared in the 1980s on television, the “ infotainment »Is living today, thanks to the Internet, its heyday. Emblematic of this trend, the Demotivateur site, with 3.1 million unique visitors in January 2015, compared to 1.2 million in January 2014, according to Mediametrie. It shows a 160% increase in its audience over one year, enough to make traditional media green with envy.

Creators Michal Sikora, his brother Pawel and Ari Cohen make no secret of it, it’s the clicks and the number of shares that count. Even if it means setting aside the rigor of journalistic information. The financial results are there. The annual turnover would exceed 2.4 million euros according to our information. A considerable sum for this start-up founded only two years ago and composed of 11 people.

An algorithm to choose the subjects

Their method? It is reversed compared to conventional media. The editorial team no longer thinks primarily of its readers but first of all of the wishes of the advertisers, who will indirectly build the editorial line of the site, including the rubric. Technology comes into play. The selection of the subjects addressed is in fact done by means of an algorithm, as is also done Melty. Result, which has not already clicked out of curiosity on: ” You will never guess why this young woman was put in jail! Never seen before… NORMAL that the neighbors complained…” or ” 10 things that inevitably happen to girls with childish faces!“. Until sometimes going too far and risking the bad buzz because of a subject about Hitler. So much short content that fits perfectly with reading uses on mobile. Uses which have also shaped the editorial formats of the site. Result: 77% of unique visitors came from mobile in January 2015.

The three founders were quickly supported by a heavyweight in online advertising: Hi-Media. This is also Romain Achard, director in charge of the Magic team dedicated to brand content within the group founded by Cyril Zimmermann which orchestrates the commercial strategy of Démotivateur. Articles sponsored by advertisers such as the Ministry of Finance or ERDF are only very weakly differentiated from other content. A questionable method insofar as the distinction with non-sponsored content is very discreet … while the law is very clear on the subject.

On social networks and in particular on the first of them, Facebook, members are exchanging more and more content. This development goes hand in hand with the skyrocketing audiences of sites producing content precisely calibrated to be viral, that is to say to be shared as much as possible. The key is to play on the emotional, which has been well understood by Buzzfeed, Tribunal du Net, SpiOn, Melty, Topito, MinuteBuzz and other PurePeople.

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These new media think first of the number of clicks and potential shares, even if it means setting aside the historical considerations of their elders: journalistic rigor, the contribution of light for readers. The model is inspired by American sites including BuzzFeed, whose publisher plans to go public, and Upworthy (19.5 million unique visitors per month on average according to Quantcast).

Each week, find a report, behind the scenes of digital companies that are overthrowing traditional economic models.