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VON Day 2: Ted Leonsis

What’s web 2.0 about, asks Ted Leonsis.  Well, it’s about consumers.  The web has put the steering wheel in the hands of consumers, and nobody is giving it up.  And that’s going to cause some disruption amongst traditional media companies.

One of his big epiphanies this summer was the idea of “marketing to algorithms”.  The example he used was how his car told him, this summer, that he needed new tires.  He immediately bought them, having seen tens of thousands of tire commercials, without even thinking.  The algorithm told him he needed to buy.

The other thing he talked about was how his son, and some of their buddies, over the summer created an NHL Draft Picks blog, by aggregating content from all the team web sites. On draft day, they had over 100K unique visitors, more than any print media site.

The long tail is real!

He talks about the trend from expert driven to the wisdom of crowds.  Examples: WikiPedia, the AOL shared spam filter, Digg and others.

Video is making the internet better.  Now you have the choice to watch what you want, when you want.  He talks about how Katie Couric’s newscast on CBS is now simulcast on the the internet.

We get a quick view of a new search engine being developed by AOL which includes video.  Not only does it return text results, but also video.  We see a search on Madonna showing a panel to the right with a collection of videos.

He talks about the shift in business model.  AOL is banking heavily on video, and video with an advertising model.  They’re sold out of their video advertising inventory, and they’re getting cable industry CPMs (ad rates).

He shows the new AOL video portal, with a UI like an EPG.  Promises that there will be RSS feeds available too, which gives the ability for the blogosphere to syndicate it, and generate checques as well.

In2TV is a project to digitize all kinds of old content.  It’s the itunes of of video.  They want to give consumers the ability to take the content, syndicate it, excerpt it, put it on their own sites, and generate a revenue stream from advertising back to the content owner.

We also see samples of TMZ (a user generated Hollywood gossip site), and Sessions (original performances by music artists).  Ted also tells about their consumer created video content portal called Uncut Video which will launch in October.  Ted does magic tricks with a twenty dollar bill!

He turns to a sneak peek of AOL Video, a television video portal designed by AOL and Intel’s Viiv platform.  It will be announced next week.

Today they’re launching a multi-person endeavor with reality TV producer Mark Burnett.  At AOL.COM you can go to GoldRush and find clues for $2 million in gold, hidden around the country.  Ted views this as the internet changing television. They’re using the internet to drive traffic to the television. Clever.  Clues will be hidden in television, the web, music CDs… it’s a promotional opportunity for all the TW-AOL properties, with an irrestible prize.

He gets philosophical at the end, listing his seven Web 2.0 virtues, and concludes that AOL is about relationships, community, self expression — AOL is about self actualization.

It was a slick presentation. Leonsis is a compelling pitchman too.  What I found most interesting was the blending back and forth between TW’s traditional properties, and today’s internet generation.  If AOL can successfully execute this, they will leverage both their constituencies in a manner which Yahoo, Google, or Microsoft cannot. 

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