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Just What Did AOL Get for Their $315 Million?
Last night sure was interesting — everyone on Twitter was bitching about the Groupon ads, cheering for the Chrysler ad, and there was very little actual football chatter from what I could tell. Then at 9:01 Pacific time, the conversation on Twitter changed in the tech sector. Kara Swisher and the NYT posted that the Huffington Post was acquired by AOL. Congrats to everyone involved – looks like this was a very large acquisition for the content network that recently acquired a number of blogs and technology providers.
What I immediately thought was, “wow, this fits perfectly with the AOL Way where they want to generate massive pageviews with little work”. Last week I put a URL into my bookmarks for later usage on a story about content scraping. The URL was from a post on HuffPo about some topless photos of actress Olivia Wilde. Apparently Wilde did a shoot (she was covered) in FHM magazine. The reason the link was interesting to me is that FHM magazine goes after any outlet that posts their images online. So could the HuffingtonPost really have posted these images? NOPE! What do you get when you land on the page titled, “Olivia Wilde Goes TOPLESS In FHM France (PHOTOS)”? You get one tiny paragraph of content and a link to another website. But you also get thousands of pixels in other non-related “stuff”.
When you put something in parens (Photos, Video, etc.) in a story title, you expect that the thing is actually located within the post.
So what did AOL pay for when they acquired HuffingtonPost for $315 million? Did they get one of the biggest SEO plays out there? Today on the investor call, Ariana Huffington said something about how they create quality content at cost-effective prices. I am not a regular reader of the HuffingtonPost – mainly because every link I follow ends up being a scrape or a let down in quality or quantity of content.
I am certain that most of the content on HuffPo is probably of good length and quality — but is it these types of articles that drive the pageviews to let them create the other quality content?
But let’s take a look at one example — last night Christina “Genie in a Bottle” Aguilera performed the national anthem at the Super Bowl. She messed up and missed some of the words. I wanted to see what the press was saying about her fumble so I headed over to Google and typed in her name (actually only part of her name, the rest was courtesy Google Instant).
On the first page of results is a blog entry from Huffington Post titled, “Christina Aguilera Nude Pictures Leak (PHOTOS)”. So I clicked it, not because I want to see Xtina naked, but because I just knew that it would be a dupe of the Wilde story above. And sure enough, I was unfortunately correct! Below is a graphic I made showing the page about Christina and as you can see – the blue box is content and the red is everything else. Oh and…the blue content is a scrape from another site! There is not one photo of Christina naked but there are about 100 “tags” – I wonder how long it took someone to enter all of the tags displayed below?
Wasn’t Google supposed to fix this issue?
I sure hope that this isn’t the type of content we will see coming soon from Engadget.
Here’s the Christina “nude pics” page (click to view the larger version):