In one year, AOL has gone from a high of exactly 100 media properties -- including its home page and search, any asset that brought in advertising -- to 20.
"The underlying strategy is to build on ... how we see consumers behaving," CEO Tim Armstrong said, pointing out that streamlining the content was more in line with how people actually use AOL. "We're more closely connecting consumers with fewer, more powerful brands," he said.
Mr. Armstrong's editing effort is nothing new, as he has been working toward paring down the company's myriad units, including its ever-declining dial-up access business that nonetheless accounts for 40% of company revenue.
The 20 brands include the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, as well as some legacy brands like AOL BlackVoices, which will be folded into the Huffington Post as Huffington Post BlackVoices. Executive Jon Brod, who was installed as the head of operations within the new Huffington Post Media Group, will now focus on Patch and will continue to report to Mr. Armstrong.
But the company's strategy to focus on just a few brands, including recent acquisition Huffington Post, in some ways signals a brand failure. Just last year AOL, issued a series of posters proclaiming its "family of brands," which listed 100 properties, from a site called Asylum, described as "the ultimate experience for the forward-thinking man," to a site called Holidash for those interested in "holiday celebration and party ideas." (Neither of these sites made the latest cut.) The campaign was designed to show that AOL had a content destination for every person with every taste, and thereby every advertiser. It was, in fact, a patchwork of content, a bloated omnibus of sites that never made sense under a single roof.
Gone at AOL will be brands like PopEater, which will become part of Huffington Post's celebrity channel; DIY; Lemondrop; Truveo; and Fanhouse. And yet, despite the winnowing, the latest iteration of AOL still appears to be an assortment rather than a match set:
- AOL Healthy Living
- AOL Industry
- AOL Money & Finance
- AOL Music
- AOL Search
- AOL Travel
- AOL Video
- AOL Autos
- Huffington Post
- MMA Fighting.com