Why Is AOL Killing Asylum.com?

In a move typical of corporate waste management, AOL will be shutting down their men’s website due to low revenue. But could they save it?

Why Is AOL Killing Asylum.com?

At first glance it would seem as though AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong is simply cutting the fat. You know, the way all corporate heads do when they look down at a spreadsheet where they see only numbers and not people. Saving the bottom line and all that.

It happens all the time and I’ve been in media and publishing long enough to know just how common it is. However, in the case of Asylum.com, something has me miffed.

You see, Armstrong’s AOL has yet another new content strategy (they change strategies like we change our socks). They want to create a new series of networks called “towns” of like-minded content. There will be a town for women where the content of Lemondrop.com will end up. There will also be towns for families, finance, news, and so on.

But what of Asylum? Why is AOL’s only men’s website just being shut down outright. Will there not be a men’s town where some of that content and it’s creators can find a home? You mean to tell me that there is no audience out there that could support it?

Why can’t they take the humor and entertainment factors of Asylum, combine them with say some health and career concerns and make a perfectly good men’s town?

And can I say … Really AOL … TOWNS? Ugh! Anyhoo …

AOL is missing a big opportunity here. Yes, lowbrow men’s humor gets a shitload of traffic that is very hard, even impossible to sell. However, I work for MensFitness.com, a men’s website that actually sells ads and sponsorships. Properly too, not solely relying on affiliate network remnant ads that most sites run in the hopes of making money.

It’s a site that appeals to advertisers because it appeals to men interested in health and fitness. Specific, to the point. Yes, every so often we pepper in some good old lowbrow fare (ie bikini models, sports humor, giveaways, etc) but we don’t try to sell it.

That’s our out-of-work actor standing on the corner in a chicken suit handing out coupons for half off dinners at the local eatery. He’ll get you thru the door, but we have to make you want to eat. And if you don’t like the food, firing the chicken won’t help. I think AOL had a great hook with Asylum.com.

I’m sorry to see Asylum go. I got to meet the folks there and work with them. I wish them luck. If only AOL — or any bloated corporation — could see even a glimmer of light, media could very well be a better place than it is right now.

See Also:
Asylum.com (until 1/21/11)

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