Tonight, AOL revealed its master plan for cheap content creation: automated assignment editors.
AOL told the Wall Street Journal it is developing an algorithm that will assign freelance writers stories based on user Web searches and the sites AOL ISP subscribers visit.
This week, for example, AOL’s algorithm would have assigned lots of stories about crib safety malfunctions.
Along with reader interest, AOL’s algorithm will also try to predict how much marketers would be willing to pay to advertise next to stories on certain topics. In this way, when AOL’s algorithm assigns a story, it will also come up with an amount of money AOL would be willing to pay to see it created.
Assignments will be doled out to freelancers through Seed.com. After freelancers submit content, AOL’s 500 or so editorial staffers will edit it and post it.
The WSJ says fees will “range from nothing upfront, with a promise to share ad revenues the article generates, to more than $100 per item.”
CEO Tim Armstrong’s plan for turning around AOL after its December 10 spin-off from Time Warner (TWX) is to turn it from a ISP into a next-generation media company.
A big challenge (among many) will be convincing shareholders AOL can make that transition while maintaining the ISP business’s wide margins.
Hence tonight’s plans, which, replacing human editors with robot ones, will presumably keep content creation from being as expensive as it usually is.
The photo is of a Battlestar Galactica cyborg, called a Cylon.