AOL May be Building a Cheap Content Factory

Readers will remember that Tim Armstrong was a founder of Associated Content, a company that funds cheap content on a wide range of topics. The company runs a marketplace that links aspiring writers with sites that pay small sums for content designed to capture search traffic. Armstrong was a founder and early board member, but has since dissociated himself from the firm.

Why is this of interest now? Well, Armstrong appears ready to create a similar content operation at AOL. Speaking on-stage at the Web 2.0 Summit last week, he hinted at a new project.

As reported by CNET, he said, “It’s a broader platform with more information around content and the creation of content. We see that platform evolving to a much higher scale.”

This morning TechCrunch ran with the ball, reporting that the new project is a “content-management system (CMS) which will make it easier to produce and publish Web content across AOL’s sites and perhaps beyond.” Among other things, the new system would help AOL employ more contributors to write articles and videos on a range of topics.

While strictly accurate, calling such a system a CMS may be misleading. According to TechCrunch, the platform will track the number of views and the likely monetization for a given piece of content, and will pay freelance contributors based on that information. It goes a lot farther than your average publisher tool.

Associated Media is not the only firm building cheap content with search in mind. For an in-depth look at the complex mechanisms underlying another such company, check out Wired’s excellent profile of Demand Media, published earlier this month.

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