Marketplace AI

The Cost of In-House Content Moderation Solutions – Including the Hidden Ones


Whether you’re running an online marketplace, classifieds site, or sharing economy platform, you’ll want to optimize so you can manage User Generated Content (UGC) quickly and effectively.

Unfortunately, the larger you scale and the more users you gain, the harder this becomes. There will always be users who abuse your trust – whether they’re posting poor-quality photographs or uploading content with malicious or fraudulent intent.

Moderating content is a complex and constantly evolving process that requires a carefully blended package of tech and human expertise to protect your platform’s trust, content quality, and user experience. Creating that takes time, effort, and know-how. Or in other words, you’ll need to invest a lot of money and resources if you want to build your own tools and processes in-house.

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There’s no “one size fits all” solution

Depending on your organization’s size and nature, you will need to manage content moderation in your own unique way – and those solutions will need scalability so your business can grow.

If content moderation itself isn’t your core business, setting it up in-house will divert resources away from what’s most important to you.

That’s not to say content moderation isn’t important – far from it. In the last couple of years, you’ll undoubtedly hear the debate surrounding social media giants like Facebook outsourcing their content moderation.

There have been calls to bring that process in-house, as detractors argue that outsourcing such a central business function devalues its importance. However, it’s also been highlighted that a more effective content moderation solution in a large social media business like Facebook would require double the number of human moderators.

Choosing the right approach to content moderation

Most content moderation solutions blend human and AI moderators. But what are the actual costs involved in setting it up in-house?

Broadly speaking, you’ll need to account for the annual costs of staffing a moderation team plus the associated software and equipment required. Because content moderation is unique to every site, there will also be AI development and production costs.

Before deciding on the right content moderation strategy, you must know the five available methods to enhance and secure your online business. Here we go:

  1. Manual Pre-Moderation: Using a set of guidelines, all user-submitted content is screened by a moderator before it goes live on your site.
  2. Manual Post-Moderation: Content that goes live on your site and is then checked afterward by a moderator. This is commonly used on community-based platforms.
  3. Reactive Moderation: Users report or flag inappropriate or offensive content on your site. It should only be used to supplement other forms of moderation.
  4. Distributed Moderation: Leave your content moderation to the community itself, allowing them to control it using rating and voting systems.
  5. Automated Moderation: Filters and tools which automatically moderate specific content. They need continuous review by a human moderator to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

For a more in-depth account of these processes, read our blog post on 5 Moderation Methods.

Staffing content moderation in-house

Many cost factors must be considered if you’re investing in content moderation in-house.

You might have already considered the expenditure needed for salary and periods of downtime. Of course, that’s after you’ve recruited, trained, and onboarded suitably skilled content moderation staff. You’ll also need to factor in admin support, responsibility for filter management, and leadership.

The salaries for a tech team are going to include the following:

  • Front-end developer
  • Back-end developer
  • DevOps and Sysadmin to support developers and the platform running.
  • Data scientist (where machine learning is needed)
  • QA engineer for testing
  • Project/Product manager

If your content moderation team is based remotely, you’ll also need to ensure the right security and communication systems are in place. Continuous training will also be needed – to align your content moderation with policy changes and to address quality control.

As with any new hire, you’ll also need to consider the costs associated with performance management, shrinkage, and shift management. For example, you might need seasonal flexibility, or your business may be suddenly forced to move your entire operation to a work-from-home setup. Are you prepared for that and the security issues that go with it?

Redundancy is never good PR and is best avoided. So, what’s the best hiring solution for your content moderation needs?

Investing in tech for content moderation

We’ve considered staffing. Now, how about the tech needed for in-house content moderation?

One of content moderation’s most important – yet undervalued components is the control panel and its maintenance. Often considered a lower priority than user-facing features, a control panel is essential for moderation staff to do their job effectively.

If there’s no dedicated team responsible for maintaining the control panel, it usually falls to the product and site development teams – who will always have other priorities. As a result, there can sometimes be internal battles for developers’ time.

This leads to delayed upgrades and moderators reporting that control panels are outdated and do not work properly. This can negatively impact moderation efficiency.

Furthermore, ineffective content moderation can damage retention and your brand. There’s strong evidence to suggest it reduces conversions – stunting growth. You’ll also see an increase in customer support costs: as dissatisfaction results in higher levels of customer contact.

Hosting a control panel in-house carries further additional costs. If the team or person who built it leaves or is unavailable, who will you turn to for support? Not only do you have the design and maintenance to account for, but you’ve also got the added burden of automation and filter oversight to consider.

An effective control panel requires regular updates to increase productivity, accuracy, and compliance. If it’s too cumbersome, you may face poor productivity and problems with staff retention. There also needs to be a cohesive way of reporting and integrating with the back-end team.

Reasons to outsource content moderation

Fraudsters are innovative. Content moderation needs to be preemptive as well as responsive. Even with an in-house team in place, ongoing costs must be considered.

With any service, there needs to be enough capacity to improve existing services and scope for fast-paced improvements.

However, the quality of moderation you receive depends on who you outsource it to. Like any outsourced function, you need to be sure you’re getting the best value and return on investment.

Businesses tend to operate globally, but that still means understanding the culture and market of the countries you operate in. And for that, you may need native speakers or at least people with a native understanding of the culture.

Why? Because there can be significant cultural differences that require sensitivity depending on where you are in the world you are. What’s deemed offensive in one territory may not be so in another. You need local expertise.

In addition, every technological advance brings new challenges to content moderation. For example, let’s take recent developments in machine learning, such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN).

Essentially, GAN can create new data from training data. So, it can ‘learn’ from photographs to create new photographs. In terms of human image synthesis, this has resulted in misuse to create deep fakes.

Does your business have the budget and scalability to keep up with new content moderation challenges constantly? If not, then what’s the solution?

Besedo Implio: The all-in-one content moderation tool

Getting content moderation right for your business is a complicated matter. With an off-the-shelf tool like Besedo’s Implio, you’ve got instantly up-to-date content moderation expertise and technology right out of the box.

Considering switching to an off-the-shelf solution? We’ve created this handy checklist to help you. And if you’re still not convinced about the benefits of outsourcing your content moderation, why not take a look at our white paper to see how outsourcing can help free up resources?

If you have decided to see what Besedo can do for you, find out how to manage a smooth migration with our cheat sheet

Responsible and transparent partnerships

At Besedo, we’ve worked with businesses like yours for over 20 years. Since 2002, we’ve offered content moderation insight and foresight to our partners based on trends and the vast pool of data that we handle.

To give you an idea of scale, we review over 570 million pieces of content and block nearly 40 million fraud and scam attempts every year. You’re proud of your product, and we’re passionate about giving your end-users the best possible experience in a safe environment.

Rather than outsourcing your customer support, think of us as an extension of your team. With 350 employees from 20 different nationalities, we’re a global and multicultural company that can help with localized expertise.

We provide tailored content moderation strategies and solutions to suit your business needs.

This is Besedo

Global, full-service leader in content moderation

We provide automated and manual moderation for online marketplaces, online dating, sharing economy, gaming, communities and social media.

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