AOL’s content strategy

When a magazine stops printing, what happens to its readers? The TechCrunch blog has a really intriguing post on AOL’s emerging strategy to bring old media talent online to create original online content.

[The] team wants to pick up the pieces of the dying print media business. Advertising is falling off a cliff (billions of dollars in advertising has evaporated). Combined with the high structural costs of print media (high wages, and well, printing on paper and mailing to readers) and the result is a lot of high quality talent is suddenly willing to take a job in online, even at a much lower salary.

The plan would be to build and buy scores of new brands in every monetizable niche possible. If you see a magazine at the newsstand covering a topic, AOL will have their own online brand for that topic, in blog or other format. They’ve already got the publishing platform with MediaGlow. New brands can be inserted or built at little marginal operating cost. And the talent is out there for the taking right now.

Obviously at this point no one knows what will be sustainable and what won’t, but to me this sounds brilliant. As crazy as it sounds, it may just be that AOL is the entity that delivers the magazine industry into the 21st century. Other people and companies seeking to find new online markets would do well to start with this model.