- I’ve never heard of Sphere, what does it do?
- What does AOL want with Sphere?
That first question is easy to answer. You’ve probably seen Sphere in action, but perhaps never paid much attention to it. Here’s how the company describes itself:
Sphere connects your current articles to contextually relevant content from your archives as well as from Blog Posts, Media Articles, Video, Photos, and Ads from across the Web.
Among its 69,000+ content partners you’ll find the WSJ, Reuters, Time, and TechCrunch.
Still not ringing a bell. OK, your last reminder is a screenshot of Sphere’s widget in action:
OK, so now the light bulb’s come on, let’s move on to the next question. What does AOL want with Sphere?
Well, to answer that question, we turn to AOL for an explanation:
“Our focus at AOL is providing consumers relevant content wherever they are on the Web, and Sphere’s capabilities fit in perfectly with this effort. Not only will it let us enhance content on our own sites, it will let us distribute our content across Sphere’s growing third-party publisher network,” said Ron Grant, President and COO of AOL. “In addition, this acquisition provides AOL with access to advertising inventory across Sphere’s network, while growing its reach to content publishers via the widget.”
Some quick math suggests that AOL’s just picked up close to 70k publishing partners for less than $400 each! AOL’s content on the WSJ and TechCrunch for $400? Bargain!
Of course, the real question is just how often do people click on the Sphere “related content” links? I know I did once–just out of curiosity–but haven’t clicked on one since. So how many engaged readers, AOL is going to get its content in front of, is a mystery–at least to those of us outside of the deal–but at $400 a site, it’s pocket change for AOL.