AOL’s ambitious hyper-local news platform is consolidating some Patch websites, and it’s not awfully clear why.
Yet internally, AOL is in the process of figuring out just how small (or large) a Patch should be, a calculation that includes available readership and just how “hyper” local advertisers want to go.
Patch’s model gets quite tricky when you break it down on a micro level. Local advertisers (as well as the demand for placement) vary significantly across the country. One strategy for acquiring local advertisers may work for one city, but be completely ineffective in another.
And from that, a major problem arises. AOL is trying to figure out the proper size of a Patch, but they fail to realize that Patch sizes, by number of users, will vary greatly. Throw in the fact that Patch’s model is built off strong SEO, assume that some people click through and never return, and you have an immense challenge.
The other incorrect approach was to name a solid number of Patch websites for the end of the year. Why hold yourself to a number (1,000) in this case, when there was so much testing and tweaking that would need to be done at a later time?
Quite frankly, I’ve never been a believer in Patch, and today’s report only serves to further my thought process. I don’t think they know what they are doing, and I think AOL executives are sweating bullets as each day goes by. Not to mention, people are really starting to question whether the initial heavy investment in the platform was justified.