Does AOL Represent the Future of Media?

I’m sure the news that AOL had purchased the Huffington Post rocked your world yesterday morning – at least it did mine. I remember seeing a tweet that read something like, “AOL seals the deal with HuffPo during the Superbowl!!!”

What deal??? I remembered thinking to myself, my mouth watering at the prospect of some breaking news. And so greedily I clicked on the link, which took me a Ben Parr Mashable article with a headline that read, “AOL’s $315 Million Bet: ‘The Huffington Post’ Will Make It Relevant Again“.

I was stunned.

For a voracious content consumer such as I, the Huffington Post was the greatest thing since sliced bread -sometimes it features exceptional editorial content, often it aggregates exceptional news and opinion, more often than not it has content farm-like articles, and the community discussions are always lively and engaging.

So when I read the first two paragraphs of the Mashable article, I moaned, but AOL is a dying company (emphasis on the dying), and now they’re gonna drag HuffPo down with them!!! Just look at what they did to Bebo!

But a few deep breaths and a couple opinion pieces later, I actually think AOL’s buyout of the Huffington Post will be a good thing.

Here’s why:

AOL now has two big blog networks with massive reach and influence.

It’s a wonder that AOL has been able to survive this long given that 80% of its revenues are still based on dial-up subscribers. (Who still uses dial-up?) As broadband access has become cheaper and faster, AOL has increasingly been looking at content companies to drive revenue and growth. With the acquisitions of both TechCrunch and the Huffington Post, AOL has laid the groundwork to become a far-reaching new media empire.

Although both TechCrunch and the Huffington Post can be considered niche sites, both websites attract over 43 millions of visitors each month: TechCrunch averages 3.8 million monthly visitors, and the Huffington Post averages 40 million.

Content instead of Technology is definitely the way to go.

I wrote a blog post yesterday on how important content creation is and why there is so much money in it. The Huffington Post has been criticized in the past for aggregating articles from around the web or writing articles based off Google searches, but that doesn’t seem to a trend that will go away soon.

Look at a content-farm company like Demand Media, which despite the news that Google was developing a new algorithm that would negatively impact content farms,  was still able to IPO for $1.5 billion.

People clearly have an unquenchable thirst for this type of content, and as long there is demand, companies would be wise to supply it.

Arianna Huffington will be in charge of the newly created Huffington Post Media Group.

Arianna Huffington was able to turn what started out as a side hobby in 2005 into a website that attracts millions of visitors and brings in millions of dollars in revenue. So I think that she has the credentials to really spearhead AOL’s step into the future of media.

The Huffington Post will combine all of AOL’s content companies, including TechCrunch, the Huffington Post, local news service Patch, and much more.

Huffington had been planning to expand both its local and global coverage, and now with the backing and resources of AOL, she should be able to do so. If there’s anyone capable of leading the Huffington Post Media Group into the future, it would be her.


What do you think of AOL’s purchase of the Huffington Post? Share your thoughts below.


About Ssunmonu

Sam Sunmonu is a Duke University Senior majoring in History with a minor in Political Science. He is interested in the marketing industry with a strong online tilt. You can catch him blogging at Sam Sunmonu's Blog, or follow him @NewInfluential. View all posts by Ssunmonu

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