AOL to Let Marketers Help Create Editorial Content

AOL, which is set to complete its spinoff from Time Warner Inc. next week, is talking up its plan for reinvention (and survival).

The Internet property has made no secret of its intent to capture online media content market share. How AOL does that, though, could threaten its credibility if it’s not careful. That’s because CEO Tim Armstrong intends to let marketers work with AOL’s editorial team to create custom content, the Wall Street Journal reports.

AOL owns several niche brands such as Stylelist and will allow advertisers to be affiliated with the content produced, but says they won’t be permitted to control what is written or created, according to the Journal. Media experts say AOL must take great pains to disclose when content has been shaped by advertisers’ input or risk alienating readers and viewers.

AOL also has developed an algorithm for aggregating news, entertainment and other content from across the Web; in addition to forming content, the numbers will tell the company which Web searches and other data will mostly likely attract audiences and sponsors, the Journal said.

AOL is shifting its focus from dial-up Internet access to online media content – which it already aggregates from hundreds of sources – and display advertising, as well as unspecified technology, as it tries to secure its share of online marketing money.

The new directions will place more onus on Armstrong, a former Google advertising executive who is working to turn around the once-dominant Internet company’s fortunes. AOL has watched its dial-up subscriptions and advertising revenue plummet for the past two years.

Because of that, Time Warner has decided to turn AOL into a separate company.

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