With New Video Portal, AOL Puts The 'On' Back In America Online

Sometimes, what’s old is new again. AOL, whose robust content syndication strategy has helped distance itself from its aggregator past, is once again touting itself as a portal – this time for all things video. The new hub, dubbed “AOL On,” was dubbed Tuesday evening during its portion of the digital “NewFront” to advertisers, agencies and the press in New York City.

With big acquisitions like The Huffington Post and 5Min Media, AOL had been focusing on spreading its influence to other sites and syndicating content around the Web. Now, it seems, the company wants to bring those eyeballs back.

With AOL On, the Web giant is bringing its entire video offering under one umbrella. AOL On is comprised of 14 discrete channels and more than 300,000 videos, including a new slate of seven original Web series (also something the company has tried in the past), and some 1,000 publisher content partners.

Many of the publishers have been part of AOL’s 5Min syndication network, and while their video programming will continue to be syndicated through that platform, they will for the first time be organized around a single destination.

Compared with Google’s video giant YouTube, 300,000 videos may not sound like a lot, but the company claims AOL On will be distinguished from other video sites by its library of premium video programming, which advertisers covet because the content is deemed brand-safe. AOL says AOL On videos will be original, as well as “partner,” or branded content.

Ran Harnevo, AOL On’s senior vice president of video, highlighted the importance of AOL On being available across devices. He added that the video portal could both complement and compete with TV buying strategies.

“We are well-positioned not only from a scale perspective, but from a programming perspective to capture TV dollars,” Harnevo said. “It is undeniable that online video has strategic advantages relative to TV, and we have the programming, audience and measurement tools to not only target audiences but find them where they are on the Web.”

As part of its bid to capture TV dollars, AOL earlier this month said it would use Nielsen’s new Online Campaign Ratings panel data to sell and guarantee advertisers audience guarantees based on online’s equivalent of “gross rating points” (or GRPs), which is the same metric used to buy and sell television.


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