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AOL might be the sleeper that surprises everyone in the future of news 4/25/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in AOL.
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Rupert Murdoch may be the biggest threat to today’s mass media news outlets, but the future is not about mass media — it’s about multitude media. The Internet will be the great fragmenter, breaking mass audiences into thousands, if not millions, of specialized news audiences. In politics, we will see sites that appeal separately to groups from far-left to far-right. We will see separate news sites for just about every vocation and avocation. And that’s not to mention the fragmentation that will happen geographically, all the way down to the hyperlocal level. “Segmentation” will be the new “traffic,” as advertisers scramble to reach exactly the right audiences, yielding enormous productivity gains in advertising efficiency and effectiveness.

Unlike Murdoch’s News Corporation, Time Warner’s AOL seems to think the path to future news leadership does not require mass media leadership first. They are launching fragmented sites, some of which are creating their own non-AOL-branded identities. They include AOL Money & Finance, celebrity gossip site TMZ, technology-focused Switched, hip-hop site BlackVoices, Web trend tracker Urlesque.com, and male-oriented Asylum. Each offers advertisers a more or less “pure play” to reach specific audiences. The company formerly known as America Online is looking very much on-target.

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