AOL Black Focus Goes Online

ATLANTA America Online this week launched a new service called AOL Black Focus. The interactive services company said its new offering provides content and information of interest to the African American community.

After commissioning a national survey through Digital Marketing Services, the Dulles, Va., company designed the feature to focus on issues and topics relevant to this growing online community. Belinda Hankins, executive director and general manager of AOL Black Focus, said that studies show there is a genuine appetite for a comprehensive Web feature that is tailored to the African American community. “AOL is filling a need in this community,” said Hankins. “This service is a bridge connecting a worldwide community.

Offerings include news, financial, careers, education, beauty and entertainment content from AOL partners and brands such as Black Enterprise magazine, The Tavis Smiley Show and Africana.com. “This one-stop shop will be invaluable to the community and all AOL members,” added Hankins.

The DMS survey revealed that 85 percent of African Americans consider online news sources as valuable. Findings also showed that 43 percent of the respondents accessed the Internet using a broadband connection, as opposed to 36 percent of the general population. African Americans also are active Internet consumers, purchasing more clothing and music online than the general Web market, said Hankins.

AOL will market the new offering via promotional events such as the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, said Hankins.