AOL's acquisition of video syndication platform 5min Media gives the portal a much bigger place in the online video ecosystem, one that it intends to keep growing as online video becomes an increasingly important part on the online experience, says David Eun, president of AOL Media and Studios, who took a few minutes to talk about the acquisition with FierceOnlineVideo. Along the way, the one-time YouTube exec offered a glimpse of what AOL wants to do for its audience, as well as its publishers, and how important he sees high-quality, premium video becoming to what he calls "the New AOL."
FierceOnlineVideo: What does the 5min Media deal mean to AOL?
David Eun: We're trying to build--I know the word's overused, but frankly, it's true--a video ecosystem and we know when we look at our own consumer data that our audiences want, and are viewing more and more online video. We know this is happening across the web. And our advertisers are absolutely getting behind us and there's a lot of momentum around video ad sales, so when you look at what we have today, we're a publisher and we're producing more and more video and our StudioNow acquisition in January was a nice boost, and we obviously monetize it. So you have creation on one end and monetization on the other end. There's this part in the middle, called distribution, so we distribute through our own o-and-o network but what 5min Media allows us to do is get super distribution, to take our video out across hundreds and hundreds of different sites, which is fantastic, and then also we can bring in the best of the Web's video to our audiences by supplementing what we offer on our sites today with contextually targeted video from 5min. It's a two-way benefit. That's what the deal is.
FierceOnlineVideo: AOL has been undergoing a huge transition... how much more video is on the way for you? How much further into that video ecosystem will you dive?
David Eun: As much as makes sense. And I don't mean to be flip or anything. But video is a huge growth business and, obviously, I have a little bit of bias because I was at YouTube before coming over here, but video is a huge part of what the Internet experience is today, but it's certainly more and more of what it's going to be in the future. If you're serious about having any sort of consumer or media offering for a business, you've got to be serious about video. We're thinking though every aspect of it. Everything down to the backend to our payer, to the kind of programming we offer, to the way we organize and try to build our video business. We're still going to be really aggressive about the space and, frankly, look at all sorts of different ways that we can enhance what we do. This is the new AOL. We'll continue to be aggressive.
FierceOnlineVideo: I've heard, increasingly, from people that today every company has to be a media company and that every one of those companies has to be invested in online video. Do you agree?
David Eun: I do, and I also understand that there are different types of video and I don't usually say good or bad because you can find good video from a variety of sources. But, what we're focusing on is that we're, at AOL, focusing on high-quality, programmed experiences. We're happy to have video submissions from a large network of contributors, through StudioNow, but ultimately, we want to curate an experience. 5min helps us do that. 5min brings in great content from other publishers and effectively curates an experience on our sites. When we push and distribute our content on the 5min network we can be assured that it will be treated that way, too. We're really trying to be in a premium space here and we think there's a lot of opportunity for premium specifically.
FierceOnlineVideo: Do you see more premium, in, say the form of a paid network, for AOL content?
David Eun: You know, Jim, you never say "never." But that's not my immediate focus now. What I would tell you is that we have a paid services group, and we're selling thousands and thousands of different subscription services every week here at AOL already.
FierceOnlineVideo: Is the $50 million to $65 million figure that's going around for the purchase of 5min in the ballpark?
David Eun: I can't comment.
FierceOnlineVideo: What will the 5min purchase mean to consumers and their experience on AOL?
David Eun: Two things: One, as someone providing an experience for our audience, we're just trying to provide them with a better experience and to differentiate it from other sources. There's going to be a lot more video on AOL and I think that will be great for our audiences and, frankly, our advertisers. And then, AOL as a publisher, this idea that you can just be a destination and expect audiences to come even when you have a megaphone as big as AOL's, is somewhat dated. You need to do that, for sure, but you also need to take the content to where the audiences already are. And that's what 5min allows us to do.