VON: Ted Leonsis Is Really Happy

    September 12, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

AOL’s vice-chairman spoke at the Fall 2006 VON conference about the Internet and the future of video online. He thinks video is just beginning a strong move into being a prominent feature of online life.

WebProNews publisher Rich Ord contributed his account of the proceedings from Boston, where VON will run through September 14th. Here are some quotes and impressions from the talk given by Ted Leonsis.

“Today is the worst day the Internet will have,” said Leonsis. He was not forecasting something bad, but something good instead – the rapid improvement of the online experience, and video as a part of that.

Search drives the functionality of the web now. In the beginning it was about utility; the web came about because of a need to share information more easily. With so much information available online, people need search to get to what they want.

He noted how utility has changed into something different as people changed their expectations of the Internet. Instead of just a desire to be “needed” online, now people want to be needed and loved. It motivates them to create content.

People control the steering wheel when it comes to navigating the Internet. They aren’t going to give up that control. Search provides the navigation, and this makes the algorithms especially important, because now companies market to that.

Timeliness goes hand in hand with relevance. Leonsis noted how the Google algorithm does a great job of showing how people point to a site based on that timeliness.

He also criticized Google and Yahoo for their minimalist approach to search page design in an increasingly broadband world, calling their look and feel a design for the dialup world ten years ago.

Leonsis contrasted that with AOL Search. “We now have search designed for a broadband world with pictures and video and sound enhancing search results right on the same page.”

Online video enables the ascension of the mega next-generation media and entertainment business. He offered AOL’s TMZ.com celebrity site as an example.

“This site has become how Hollywood starts its day because we break stories,” Leonsis said, citing the Mel Gibson DUI incident as an example.

After discussing some AOL-specific initiatives, including a deal with chipmaker Intel on displaying AOL Video on televisions, he closed with what he called the most important part of the presentation: encouragement to be more generous, respectful, and sharing in all of one’s endeavors.

“We are really in the happiness business and that is a great business to be in,” he said.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.