Is this a classic case of “meet the new boss, it’s the same as the old boss” (hat tip to Roger Daltrey and the boys)? It is being revealed that AOL has a plan to bring itself back to prominence and it is oddly reminiscent of the company’s past AND its CEO’s past as well.
How you ask? Well, apparently there is a concerted effort underway to generate as much ‘craptent’ (that’s crappy content for those of you who need an assist) as possible to try to gain some ground in the search engine results. Techdirt has a little fun in helping us remember the days of mailboxes full of AOL CDs. How patently ‘ungreen’ of AOL. I don’t miss those days, do you?
Remember how AOL first became “famous”? It cluttered the world (and our garbage dumps) with millions upon millions of CD-ROMs offering “try AOL for free!” It seems that pollution is in AOL’s genes, and it just can’t get away from it. How else to explain AOL’s new plan to rebuild its brand: to flood the internet with poorly written, but quickly written, content based on whatever search terms are hot. Danny Sullivan points out the amusing fact that AOL is looking to leverage search engines for more traffic this way, at the very same time as others, such as Rupert Murdoch, are claiming that Google is “stealing” from him in sending traffic, and he’s considering opting-out.
So that addresses the company’s past, now let’s take a look at Tim Armstrong’s history before he became the Google Golden Boy which then landed him at the head of AOL. An article from ClickZ back in March brings to the fore an interesting piece of data that Armstrong seems to want to forget happened but he apparently isn’t afraid to apply some of the tricks he learned. It is widely recognized that Associated Content was the master of ‘craptent’ generation for search engine gain. Earlier this year it looked like Armstrong was looking to be at arm’s length with that fact.
Associated Content has been criticized for helping to fuel poor-quality Web content, but is it rewriting history, too?
Since Tim Armstrong, once touted as co-founder of AC, has been making headlines for ditching Google to take the CEO role at AOL, I figured I’d poke around the AC site and see what his affiliation with the firm is currently. Well, lo and behold, Armstrong’s name seems to have been scrubbed from the corporate info on the site. Once more than willing to broadcast that Armstrong was a co-founder of AC, the company’s site currently states, “Associated Content was founded by Luke Beatty in Denver, Colorado, in 2005.”
I guess Armstrong went back in time and disassociated himself.
Armstrong held a board position with Associated Content until March 2008 but as of the writing of that article back in March of this year he was still a an “active investor” according to a company spokesperson.
So it seems that Mr. Armstrong is determined to keep the word associated in his bio, as in he may still be associated with developing crappy content to get search results. You think his time at Google taught him a thing or two? I guess we’ll see. That is if we can wade through the dreck that AOL is looking to offer to the masses.
Good luck with that “strategery” which many are already bemoaning.
Effectively, it’s a plan based on adding crap into the system to trick search engines. It’s pollution and web spam as a business model. But as folks like Umair Haque are fond of pointing out, business models based on tricking people and not adding any real value aren’t business models that will last.