AOL took its first step toward becoming a “video-led content company” with the launch of AOL Rise, a morning show formatted as two-minute clips tailored for mobile devices, said Dermot McCormack, president of AOL video and studios.
AOL hopes people will watch AOL Rise instead of browsing the web or tuning into televised morning shows when people check their phones first thing in the morning.
The content, focused on news, entertainment, health and inspiration, targets AOL’s core demographic – older females – but the company hopes to attract new viewers.
Rise launched in beta without any advertising partners, which McCormack said was to allow the show freedom to experiment with content.
However, he said there’s demand to buy into the show, which will leverage AOL’s multiplatform ad technology to enable multiple forms of buying, including audience buying, just like the rest of AOL’s video assets.
AOL Rise is the first of many video projects the company will release over the next year, McCormack said. “If mobile is the new cable, we want to find the MTV of mobile,” said the former Viacom executive, who joined AOL in October.
McCormack hopes to find its own niche by finding the right video content for new platforms like mobile, similar to how Netflix found success with high-end scripted dramas and YouTube has become an area for viral, user-generated content.
AOL plans to create versions of Rise for Vine, Instagram Video and Snapchat.
“We think Rise is very social, so we want to push it into as many places we can in order to get people to subscribe to it,” McCormack said. That could even include places beyond mobile phones, like taxi cabs and gas stations, if Rise becomes a success.
If all goes well, AOL will tap into a market it and other digital media companies have pursued for a long time: the $73 billion in television advertising.
But as AOL bolsters its video content, it’s shuttering many of its blogs. At AdExchanger’s Industry Preview event, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said AOL will focus on owning larger but fewer content brands. Afterward, Re/code reported AOL had closed the popular gamer site Joystiq,.
McCormack said AOL Rise will live or die based on the organic audience it attracts. It has heavy promotion behind it to help raise awareness – AOL’s owned-and-operated properties, including AOL.com and Huffington Post, promote the show, and a forthcoming media campaign (look for AOL Rise bus ads) is in the works.
And if that doesn’t create an audience – well, it’s on to the next experiment as AOL continues to home in on video.