AOL launches user-generated content websites

AOL is pushing ahead with its focus on creating content by launching two websites, Owl and Seed, which allow users to post “expert” advice and get paid for submitting essays and photographs. Despite being in the midst of a major redundancy programme, AOL is pressing ahead with new launches as part of chief executive Tim Armstrong’s strategy of doubling its content properties in the next 12 months. Owl, which is currently in Beta, claims to be a “breathing library where useful knowledge, opinions and images are posted from experts the world over”. It covers topics such as arts and entertainment, health, lifestyle, money, science and technology and sports. The site encourages users to upload and share their thoughts by submitting content via Seed. Seed, also currently in Beta, gives writers and photographers the opportunity to submit work either on any topic they like or in answer to a brief posted by AOL. Payment to writers for open submissions is 50 percent of AOL’s profits if the piece is exclusive or 20 percent if it is not. Where pieces are submitted in response to a brief AOL takes exclusive rights over the content in return for payment calculated by a formula taking into account advertising and page views for the pages where the content lives. The site will be housed within AOL’s Media division, which was rebranded last year from MediaGlow.


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