AOL.com has launched a video module smack in the middle of the page, featuring original content from partners including WWE and HSN, as the web portal seeks to drive higher engagement (and more dollars) from its growing stockpile of vid clips.
Previously, AOL.com highlighted video in a "static, billboard-type way," said Maureen Sullivan, president of AOL.com and lifestyle brands. "This is a better way to promote premium video to our AOL audience. They expect to see video on the site."
The new video section on AOL.com -- which attracts about 8 million visitors daily -- is directly below the "dynamic lead," a carousel of 30-plus news and entertainment stories that anchors the home page. The video module will showcase eight videos at a time, updated throughout the day based on popularity.
Through a new pact with HSN, AOL.com will present exclusive daily discounts from the home-shopping cabler via video segments. WWE is providing three shows produced exclusively for AOL -WWE Inbox, WWE In 5 and WWE Top 5 -- geared around the wrestling franchise's personalities.
Existing AOL video partners that will get play on the home page include ESPN, Conde Nast Entertainment (with content from Vanity Fair, Vogue, Glamour and Self) and the Wall Street Journal. AOL-owned brands in the video mix will include Engadget, HuffPost Live, Makers, Moviefone and StyleList.
The AOL.com video module also will serve as a gateway to original series and licensed content on the AOL On Network, the company's dedicated video-entertainment hub. AOL is bringing back four web series for its 2014 originals slate, including Nicole Richie's "#CandidlyNicole" and "city.ballet." from exec producer Sarah Jessica Parker, and has greenlit two new series: "Connected," its first TV-length video series, an adaptation of an Israeli reality show set in New York City; and "Park Bench," with Steve Buscemi's unscripted conversations with friends and New Yorkers.
In addition to premium content partners, AOL.com has inked deals with individual personalities for the home-page video initiative who will create topic-based video series in a YouTube-like vlogger format. The initial lineup of "AOL Experts" includes: Tracy Anderson (fitness), Kennon Earl (real estate), Stacy Kaiser (psychology), Zach King (creator of popular Vine videos), Dr. Karen Latimer (health and parenting), Harley Pasternak (fitness), Molly Sims (lifestyle), Sabrina Soto (lifestyle), Sam Talbot (food), Farnoosh Tourabi (personal finance) and Essie Weingarten (beauty).
AOL hasn't sold sponsorships for the home-page video carousel, but that could be an opportunity down the road, Sullivan said. "Ultimately this gives us more inventory to work with video brands," she said.
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