HuffPo’s $30M Bet on Video

The video ad market is still heating up, but AOL is betting it will come to a boil very soon. It’s making a major bet with a new streaming service on Huffington Post that will launch in the summer and promises live content 12 hours a day, five days a week and hope to get up to 16 hours a day by 2013.

The service itself is ambitious, but even more so is the investment AOL is putting behind it: $30 million, according to an AOL source. HuffPo plans to create all the video itself. It will dedicate 100 employees to the operation. The scale of the effort would put it on track to be one of the largest producers of original for the Web video around.

“The Huffington Post Streaming Network is going to take the AOL/Huffington Post universe — the stories, the reporters — and that’s going to be the script for the Streaming Network,” said Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, at a launch press conference today at AOL headquarters in New York City.

After a somewhat down year in the AOL universe, the Huffington Post continues to draw traffic and growth. Since the acquisition, the Huffington Post has created 44 new sections (started with 21), three international Huffington Post’s, 54 million comments in 2011 and 1.2 billion pageviews in January 2012 alone, up 47 percent since the merger.

The Streaming Network will be available across desktop, tablet and smartphones. Clickable headlines in the video will lead the user to stories letting people read and watch at the same time. Social interactions are baked in so people can share on their networks. There will also be a video archive to watch on demand.

The Streaming Network will also incorporate existing AOL properties for content. Sites like TechCrunch and Engadget.

The network doesn’t have any advertisers signed up yet for the launch, but AOL clearly hopes to change that. The video ad market is one of the more attractive (and fast-growing) segments of online advertising. HuffPo execs said they plan to offer a variety of ad formats within the videos, including pre-rolls and in-video integrations.

The move is certainly a bold one for AOL, which has come under a storm of criticism on various fronts for a slow-moving turnaround strategy to become a digital media powerhouse. It could also provide a needed infusion of high-quality content into the video ad market.
Digiday Top Stories
  • Eyeview becomes the latest ad tech casualty

    Eyeview, which raised around $80 million in funding, told its 100 employees the company would shut.

  • Video: WTF is Apple’s privacy update?

    Digiday senior reporter Tim Peterson breaks down Apple's new privacy update.

    ad attribution
  • Online music videos get official age ratings in UK, the US could be next

    Online music videos will now receive age ratings in the same way films do in the U.K. as part of a government-led pilot. The Department of Culture Media and Sport has brought together U.K. record labels, Sony, Universal and Warner Music, along with platforms YouTube and Vevo, ratings body BBFC and record label trade body BPI to crack down on the amount of unsuitable music content seen by children online.

  • Content marketers share their biggest mistakes and failures

    At the Digiday Content Marketing Summit, in Half Moon Bay, California, this week, we asked the cream of the content marketing crop what to share their biggest mistakes. Hasbro's Tina Walsh likened a failed call for user-generated content to "throwing a party and no one comes." Sonic's Sarah Beddoe cautioned against jumping on the latest social platform just because it feels like everyone else is there.

  • Throwback Thursday: Nike ads just did it

    The words "Nike" and "advertising" are as likely to evoke super-star athletes -- from Michael Jordan to Tiger Woods -- as they are inspirational paeans to striving and sweating. But a look back at classic Nike ads this throwback Thursday reveals a few surprises. "Just do it," one of the all-time classic slogans, is as core to the Nike brand as the shoe itself. But the tag, created by Wieden+Kennedy co-founder Dan Wieden, didn't hit the air until 1988. Featuring a real-life octogenarian marathoner, the spot was completely celeb-free.