AOL’s Secret Project: Turn The Company Into A Low-Cost Content Machine

AOL, which has been making headlines hiring big-name journalists (the company now employs something like 3,000 full-time writers) is now going in perhaps the opposite direction, content-wise: the company is working on a new content management system (CMS) that will make it easier for AOL to scale up the number of contributors it uses, monetize its content, and pay all the newbies a lot less, TechCrunch theorizes.

“Built into the system is a way to include content from freelance writers and pay them based on the views and ads shown on the pages they write. It’s like a fancy blogging platform with all sorts of tracking and ad-monetization built in….In addition to the content coming in from thousands, or even tens of thousands, of lowly-paid contributors, the CMS system might also be able to automatically generate related content on the fly.”

Now, to be fair, the only thing AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said at the Web 2.0 conference was “Our content is 80% our own, we’re going to keep going. It’s all about taking content management serious,” but the platform the company’s building certainly sounds a lot like Associated Content and its ilk. And to bring in tens of thousands of contributors is all but certain to result in lower rates (or pay per ad impression) unless Armstrong wants to bankrupt his company.

Cheap content is the new Internet.