With a new niche trade media initiative, AOL is aiming for an enterprise version of what occurs through Facebook sharing across the web. The firm today launched AOL Energy, the first of three planned industry-specific sites, and wants readers to connect their LinkedIn accounts to the site.
"If we could find a way to get people to use their business social marketing accounts [to share stories]…we could have a really powerful tool for readers," said Jay Kirsch, VP and GM of AOL Industry, a project Kirsch spearheaded under AOL's Ventures arm.
Advertisers will be present on the site starting June 1, but for now, AOL will use that ad real estate to promote the LinkedIn connection to readers, said Kirsch.
AOL is using LinkedIn's open API to connect reader accounts to the new sites. AOL Government and AOL Defense are expected to launch soon.
LinkedIn is "an important component because business is inherently a social animal... All of these are industries that at the end the day have big purchasing decisions that are really made across the table," rather than clicking a button to buy online, said Kirsch.
The defense industry site is set to go live on June 15, in conjunction with the Paris Air Show, the aerospace industry's international conference. AOL plans to have journalists and a videographer embedded at the show.
Rather than covering industry from a consumer or political perspective, these sites will speak directly to people working in each sector. The company chose energy, government and defense as its initial focus areas because, "all have a combination of factors that make the information that surrounds them need-to-know," said Kirsch.
"All of the industries are highly regulated, highly data intensive, and in a state of disruption," he continued, noting that AOL aims to compete head on with more traditional trade publications in the chosen sectors. "We're competitors against things like Aviation Week or Power Magazine or Government Computer News.”
Kirsch said AOL stands apart from those potential competitors because "Our integration of social media and our integration of all of the things that have been learned in online product development separate us inherently from business [print media]."
AOL Energy content is produced by a full-time editorial staff, and augmented by content aggregated from other sites, according to Kirsch. There are also around 15 corporate executive contributors lined up to write columns for the site. For instance, a post published today from Peter Loscher, president and CEO of Siemens AG, touts the global firm's dedication to investment in the U.S.
"Siemens, while they are a vendor...they're also a player in [the energy industry] and they have a very important viewpoint that should be shared," said Kirsch. "You're not going to see them blogging in a way that is talking products."
Kirsch wouldn't share any more information about the advertising and sponsorship opportunities associated with the new sites, but said, "We’re actively out there in the market."
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March 19, 2014