The Columbia Journalism Review mentioned AOL's Demand/ROI tool and how it is being used to find topics that will generate pageviews and ROI -- along with the news that AOL is hiring reporters.
Demand/ROI is "used to suggest to writers topics that they should write about, either on a seasonal demand basis, or on a trending topic basis. While journalists aren't restricted to only write about demand topics, they are a good keyword / topic source of data for them," an AOL insider said.
Vice President at Laredo Group and Founder of Influence Collective LLC, Kendall Allen reported, "Demand/ROI, an algorithm that trawls the social networks and databases to get a beat on user interests through search patterns and other behavioral trending, which will be used by various divisions and sites within AOL. It is ostensibly able to predict the success of that content by dynamically monitoring user feedback and response to content. In today's world these predictions can guide strategies on fostering readership and site loyalty -- as well as help identify and quantify content monetization potential."
This predictive content is similar to what Demand Media is doing, though AOL has a better brand name - and a search partnership with Google - so may not face the "content farm" tag. The articles are written about trending inquiries so being labelled a 'content farm" could be a little unfair.