Mel Taylor: Aol’s Patch Geared Toward Advertisers, Not Readers

Mel Taylor, a strategist focused on online revenue for hyperlocal media, shared his theory about Aol’s Patch with Silicon Alley Insider: Advertisers are its masters, not readers.

Mentioning past hyperlocal failures, such as San Diego News Network and The Local from The New York Times, Taylor wrote, “We can’t imagine that AOL chief Tim Armstrong is overlooking the lessons of these past stinkers. We also don’t think he’s doing Patch for purely altruistic reasons, like saving journalism or winning journo awards for his mantle. Clearly, he wants ROI. And why not? That’s job No. 1 for any CEO.”

Taylor added that Patch is seeking advertising beyond just banners, with an eye toward upselling events, video, Web development, social and reputation management, and other services. He concluded:

Journalism’s two masters: reader and advertiser. Which one do you think ROI-focused Patch is putting first in line? Distasteful as it may sound to some, sales and revenue need to take a front seat in every local news and hyperlocal effort. Without sound financial footing, community coverage and engagement are nonexistent. Journalism is a means to an end for corporate media. That end is profit. We know this is tough to swallow for newsroom vets, after decades of insanely profitable newspaper domination.