With its general brand tainted among many consumers and strongly associated with “training wheels for the Internet,” AOL is adopting a strategy that effectively turns it into a holding company for a stable of wide-ranging consumer and B2B brands. This Washington Post article explores the issue and new thinking in some depth.
In local the company now has several properties:
- AOL Local Search
- AOL Cityguide
- AOL Yellow Pages
- AOL Mobile/MyMobile (has a heavy dose of local content)
Then there’s AOL search where the greatest volume of local search queries is happening. Mapquest has its own strong identity but the other desktop sites are arguably weak brands and could change or disappear.
Should these sites be doorways into the same database of content? Should they be totally differentiated experiences appealing to different use cases or user segments? By the same token, the company could create new types of local sites with new user experiences, built around video, local social networks, deals/coupons, etc.
These are the questions that AOL has to answer. However, the “independent brands” approach frees the company in a way to experiment, try things and see what works.