The AOL Way Or The Highway? I’ll Take Route 66

Filed as Editorial on February 21, 2011 7:45 am

AOL made waves a few weeks ago when an internal document titled “The AOL Way” was published and detailed the company’s intended direction for content creation. The gist of the document doesn’t look pretty: Is AOL on a content downward spiral?

BusinessInsider, which obtained the leaked “AOL Way” document breaks down the calamity. Writers are expected to put page views and revenue generation over great content. While great content and high revenue are often synonymous, AOL is taking a different approach and separating the two in the hopes of manufacturing blog posts in the most efficient way possible while expecting results only a New York Times best selling author could deliver.

AOL also expects page views and revenue to jump dramatically from the same amount of posts being published by the same people without additional resources. I don’t doubt some of the Bloggers AOL employs – namely Engadget – but to expect less without giving more just to save your company seems ludicrous and I’m not alone. Paul Miller, Engadget’s Senior Associate Editor announced his departure from AOL due to the company’s shift in content creation.

“I’d love to be able to keep doing this forever, but unfortunately Engadget is owned by AOL, and AOL has proved an unwilling partner in this site’s evolution. It doesn’t take a veteran of the publishing world to realize that AOL has its heart in the wrong place with content. As detailed in the ‘AOL Way,’ and borne out in personal experience, AOL sees content as a commodity it can sell ads against. That might make good business sense (though I doubt it), but it doesn’t promote good journalism or even good entertainment, and it doesn’t allow an ambitious team like the one I know and love at Engadget to thrive.”

While I can’t speak about hiring new writers I think I speak for everyone at Splashpress Media when I say we’re a lot nicer and content friendlier.

But what does this mean for the future of AOL and content creation in general? Well, AOL has always been the bane of the Internet so I don’t expect that to change. But, it will be interesting to see how AOL manages to generate increased revenue and pageviews with its new content dogma.

Let’s say the cash increases, page views double and AOL has numbers to back up its claims. So? If the content sucks I couldn’t care at all about AOL. My prediction is AOL may set a new standard for content creation for better or for worse (I’m leaning with the later). I wouldn’t be surprised to see content flood the network that panders to a click happy audience while alienating the dedicated audiences of blogs AOL has bought out recently such as TechCrunch and The Huffington Post.

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