AOL Acquires Two Local Content Providers4:51 PM EST Thu. Jun. 11, 2009
Planning ahead for its eventual separation from Time Warner, AOL has acquired two Web startups that specialize in providing content for local community Web sites.
Thursday AOL bought Patch Media, a local news and information platform serving towns and small communities, and Going, which provides an online system people use to share information about things to do in cities across the U.S.
AOL did not disclose financial details of the acquisitions, but an Associated Press story said AOL paid less than $10 million apiece for the companies.
AOL has been redefining itself as an extended network of local services, providing consumers with content, information and self-service applications. AOL said its network, which includes the MapQuest online mapping service, reaches more than 54 million unique visitors per month.
"Local remains one of the most disaggregated experiences on the Web today -- there's a lot of information out there, but simply no way for consumers to find it quickly and easily," said AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in a statement. "Going forward, local will be a core area of focus and investment for AOL."
Armstrong, who was previously advertising chief at Google, was named to the AOL post in April in what was widely seen as a first step for the company's eventual spin off from parent Time Warner. While there have been rumors that AOL will be taken public at some point, Time Warner hasn't disclosed its plans for the Internet company.
In the announcement of the Going and Patch Media acquisitions, AOL noted that local advertising, both online and offline, represents an approximately $103 billion market -- about 39 percent of total U.S. ad spending.
Boston-based Going provides information for people in their 20s about things to do in 30 U.S. cities, with several more planned for this year. Patch Media, headquartered in New York, combines local and professional journalism with community contributions to create local "patches" or communities of content. Armstrong was an investor in Patch Media.