Busy day at AOL: The company announced its acquisition of web video distributor 5Min and the TechCrunch network of websites, which are among the leading providers of technology news, information and analysis. Without doubt, AOL is making content a priority in its internal development as well as in its acquisition strategy.
Today, I had the opportunity to discuss this today with David Eun, president of AOL Media and Studios who agreed that this is one of the company’s primary focuses because, “This is the era where content will differentiate companies in the consumer internet space.” While he points out that AOL is “equal parts a technology company and a media company,” he says that so many companies are building platforms today and that AOL will distinguish itself through its content—and ability to scale and deliver, both to consumers and advertisers.
Certainly, the company has been enhancing its content offerings internally—such as the recently announced Project Devil and re-launched Movie Phone product—to, as Eun put it “enhance the way mobile advertizing and content work together … Here at AOL we produce a lot of content on our own, and we monetize a lot of it.” And, regarding its recent enhancements of video content provision through the acquisition of StudioNow and 5Min, he says, “from a consumer and sales growth standpoint, video is a big part of the future.”
Alluding to “lessons learned from [his] YouTube days,” Eun says “We’re thinking about content in lots of different ways, so you can create destination experiences and present video in specific place such as a channel or site.” And the company certainly is thinking about content in diverse ways, given the acquisition of two such different companies announced in the same day.
Of the TechCrunch purchase, Eun says it “reflects not just our bet on content as part of our turn around, but the importance of technology, in particular young influencers, a demo we have prioritized. With our site Engadget, and now with TechCrunch you have very focused talented journalists focused on a specific space. However, despite the success of Engadget under AOL, there was immediate speculation about what would be in it for TechCrunch (other than a formidable pay day).
According to Eun, “We have acquired TechCrunch because they do what they do really well and we don’t want to mess with that secret sauce. But there are things we can do to help them scale and grow. This is a way for them to leverage us, frankly.”
Eun’s comment about “young influencers” hints at a strategy to rehabilitate the AOL brand by invigorating it with some of the hippest names in web media such as TechCrunch founder and co-editor Michael Arrington. Eun says, “It is all about the people, we’ll bathe them in technology and distribution, but it is all about the talent and the voice.”
He also believes that “The culture at AOL is changing pretty significantly…That said, we do plan on understanding that they are distinct and we absolutely want them to maintain editorial independence.” Ultimately, he says the goal is to continue to push and think about how to create better and more content that is great, we want to bring people to AOL who wouldn’t have thought of coming to us.”