Exclusive Interview: AC’s Founder Luke Beatty Talks About the Yahoo! Partnership

In AC News on May 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

Associated Content and Yahoo! announced their partnership this past Tuesday, and the AC Community has been left with dozens of questions. What will happen to the Forums? Will we still be able to earn residuals on our published content? Why is the AC home page now purple??

In the midst of the recent buzz, I caught up with AC’s Founder and President Luke Beatty to answer these, and other pressing questions about the status of Contributors and AC content during the oncoming transition.

Put your minds at ease, folks — good things are on the horizon 🙂

Here’s what’s in store for AC Contributors and Yahoo!’s content expansion plan:

SK: What were the top three reasons to close the deal with Yahoo! What were your primary goals for creating this partnership?

LB: This acquisition didn’t come out of nowhere — it’s something we’ve been driving toward since day one. It’s always been about expanding our network and allowing more and more individuals to take part in the emerging content economy. The growth we’ve achieved on our own has been astounding, but this partnership means that we’ll soon be operating on a much higher level.

The top three reasons for the partnership were:

#1: Consistent vision. The most important thing was the Yahoo! team’s solid grasp of AC’s mission, and firm commitment to carrying that torch. They didn’t buy us simply for our technology, our library or our community – they understand that it’s the relationship between those things that matters.
#2: New opportunities & scale. We already had a content partnership with Yahoo! on a few of their new initiatives. Needless to say, our Contributors nailed it. Now we have the opportunity to blow this out on a much larger scale, helping to power the web’s largest media company. To say this is like a dream come true is a huge understatement.
#3: An awesome team. Yahoo! management is the best in the industry, and I couldn’t be happier about having the entire AC staff be a part of this team.

SK: You mentioned an increased distribution of our content with the Yahoo! partnership. Does this mean more page view earnings, or just more exposure for Contributors?

LB: Both. 100%.  As the relationship grows, Contributors will have the opportunity to produce content for lots of different Yahoo! channels, like Yahoo! Autos, Yahoo! Finance, OMG, Shine, etc.  Your presence will be felt throughout the Yahoo! network.

SK: Will Yahoo/AC introduce new quality standards for content? If so, what will Contributors need to do in order to meet those standards?

LB: I hope so.  We always want better quality content.  I know that Yahoo wants it too.  And, frankly, neighboring contributors don’t want their quality content associated with poor quality content.  Our quality expectations have been evolving gradually (we’ve been at it for 5 years), and that’s going to continue. Yahoo! or not, our content ought to be of a higher quality today than it was yesterday.

SK: Will Contributors still be able to earn Performance Payments through the same or similar PV bonus program, or will the opportunity to earn residual income with AC cease to exist? Does Yahoo!  have plans to introduce other bonus/residual programs?

LB: We have no intention of pulling back any payment programs that are currently in place. Bottom line: there will be far more earning opportunities, not fewer.

SK: What will make publishing with Yahoo!/AC different than publishing elsewhere? (e.g., Demand Studios, BrightHub)

LB: We’re already distinguished by the sheer size of our community and by the fact that we allow Contributors to claim exclusive assignments and publish on any topic they choose. Moving forward, the biggest differentiator may well be the venues: through our platform, you’ll soon be able to contribute to some of the best content destinations on the web.

SK: Is the Associated Content site really going to be shut down by the end of the third quarter? If not, what can we expect the site look like in a few months?

LB: No. As you can see from the plans we’ve outlined, we’re definitely not shutting down! That report from the AP has since been clarified. As for what the site will look like in the next couple of months, you’ll likely see improved profile pages, new content templates and a lot more to choose from in the Assignment Desk. Beyond that, it’s hard to say, but I’m confident that our community will be excited about what they see – and we’ll be collecting feedback the whole time to make sure we’re on the same page.

SK: What will happen to the AC Community as it stands today? Are we going to say goodbye to the Forums?

LB: The community will grow, and so too will the channels of communication. Here, as in other areas, our plan is to create new options and opportunities, not to take anything away.

SK: Will Contributors still be using the same publishing platform for partner content and submissions that are going to Yahoo! sites? What will happen to our Profile page and links to all of our content that have been indexed on the major search engines?

LB: The platform will be the same, but inevitably it will be substantially improved with the help of Yahoo!’s extensive technological resources. You’ll still have a central profile page that links to all of your content (as I previously mentioned, some enhancements to that page are already in the works), and we expect that the amount of indexed, discoverable content will grow significantly.

SK: Do you think there will be a learning curve involved for Yahoo! submissions, or will the type of content be relatively the same?

LB: Each individual site – each assignment, really – comes with its own set of requirements. There will be a learning curve, as with anything, but much of it will be second nature to you guys. I know you can handle it!

SK: Will there be opportunities for freelancers to turn publishing with Yahoo!/AC into a full-time career? What new opportunities will be available for us, now that there are more publishing channels available?

LB: Contributing content is likely to remain closer to a freelance position for the foreseeable future. That said, anyone can apply for the full time jobs offered by AC or Yahoo! – and intimate knowledge of our platforms is definitely a plus:

In terms of new Contributor opportunities, I definitely foresee an expansion of the Featured Contributors program and more leadership positions along those lines. I’d also like to give Contributors new ways to contribute, for example by suggesting edits to one another’s content.

SK: Does AC plan to introduce any type of formal training program for new writers in the near future?

LB: Yes. An improved set of Contributor tutorials is already in the works.

SK: Can we reasonably expect an increase in upfront offers, and the fees for Partner assignments as we transition into Yahoo!’s publishing channels?

LB: Yes.

SK: Is AC still working with other media outlets, such as Reuters, Zappos and other partners? Are there plans to continue establishing relationships with other publishers/retailers/companies?

LB: Yes and definitely.

SK: Do you have plans to eliminate or modify the Featured Contributor and News programs? If so, what can we expect?

LB: Those programs will grow and evolve over time, as has always been the case. Also, as I mentioned earlier, we’d like to create new ways of contributing content and provide more leadership opportunities in the future.

SK: Will we see any major changes in AC staff? Will they be working with Yahoo!’s team now, or will they still be on their own?

LB: Our entire team will soon become part of the Yahoo! team, and many of Yahoo!’s existing employees will join us in making Associated Content bigger, better, faster and stronger.

  1. Excellent interview – both of you! This will answer many of the questions Contributors had. 🙂

  2. This is a very reassuring and exciting interview. I’m eager to explore the new possibilities offered by the Yahoo! partnership

  3. Sounds exciting. I’m looking forward to the changes.

  4. Great interview. Sounds like some exciting new things are headed our way.

  5. The improvements sound good and new opportunities are always welcome. I feel a little leery about other writers going in and changing my content, don’t like that feature at all.

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