IM goes mainstream

Online content is evolving so quickly, it's sometimes hard to keep up.

Online content is evolving so quickly, it’s sometimes hard to keep up.

The latest mainstream content innovation comes from Dulles, Va.-based AOL, which just signed a deal with prodco Katalyst Films, owned by That ’70s Show star Ashton Kutcher and his business partner Jason Goldberg. The company responsible for the hit TV shows Punk’d and Beauty and the Geek will be producing five character-driven projects for AOL.com and instant messaging (IM) service AIM. Each project will entail at least 20 mini-episodes, and advertisers can expect ad opps like product placements.

While AOL Canada declines to comment on the deal or provide details about what the content may look like, they will say it’s a sign that IM is a medium advertisers should be paying attention to. ‘IM is becoming more and more ubiquitous as time goes on,’ explains Jonathan Lister, AOL Canada’s VP audience. ‘I don’t think IM is that different from other media at its core – it’s really about the different [younger] target.’

Lister says he wouldn’t counsel advertisers to change their online formats drastically. ‘Advertisers have to be a little bit smarter [but] I don’t think it requires a radical overhaul,’ he says, adding that shorter formats than traditional TV commercials and more targeted ads are a good idea.

The AOL/Katalyst content will roll out sometime over the next year.