To target more diverse demographics, the AOL Huffington Post Media Group on Tuesday named Derek Murphy as its new multicultural general manager, while Sheila Johnson has been named strategic advisor for multicultural and African-American initiatives.
A onetime senior vice president, business development for The Huffington Post, Murphy is well aware of increasing demands for culturally varied content.
"We believe that the Latino and African-American audiences are looking for a new way to engage with news and communities online," Murphy explained in an email exchange. "There is a tremendous opportunity to reach marketers that understand the growing importance and influence of these communities."
As GM, multicultural, Murphy will be expected to drive the overall strategy and operational performance for AOL Latino, BlackVoices and AOL's other related offerings.
AOL is not the only media giant ramping up multicultural efforts. At the beginning of the year, Google created a "specialist team" to focus on the U.S. Hispanic market and help advertisers reach this market segment across search, display and mobile platforms. According to Google, there are currently about 46 million U.S. Hispanics -- and 30 million of them are online.
Also on Tuesday, AOL's Patch network of hyper-local news sites said it plans to launch "Patch Latino" for communities with large Latino populations. Patch Latino is expected to kick off with new sites in Southern California by the end of the year.
While embodying the traditional Patch model of local news, community and information, the sites will also offer dedicated coverage of topics of special interest to the Latino population. All editorial content on the sites will be in Spanish.
Patch recently announced plans to flesh out a forthcoming blog platform with 8,000 non-paid contributors. In a memo issued last week, Patch Editor in Chief Brian Farnham said he wanted all 800 Patch sites to sign up 10 community contributors, referring to the effort as a "full-on course correction heading Patch in the direction we want to go."
The move marked Patch's first major shift since AOL acquired the Huffington Post in March for $350 million.
Most recently COO of Global Media Ventures, Murphy also did a stint at CNN where he oversaw integrated media partnerships with various companies, including Google and Amazon.