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AOL's sites are #1 in traffic -- right?

I hate to harp on AOL's MediaGlow any further. But I will point out that AOL seems a bit confused about how successful its Web properties have been to date.

Let's pick apart a bit of what AOL seems to be saying in its MediaGlow announcement -- namely, that it operates the top site for men, Asylum.com.

Alexa begs to differ. Instead, it's got quite a different No. 1 site for men: Ask Men. That's followed by GQ (men.style.com), Bullz-Eye.com, Men's Health and Esquire. (Traffic ranks of 881; 2,003; 2,945; 4,013; and 13,897, respectively.) With a traffic rank of 4,198, Alexa rates Asylum just below Men's Health.

I realize that Alexa's hardly the most credible traffic source on the Web. But seriously: We're not really supposed to believe that Asylum is the No. 1 men's site, are we? Males of the Internet, back me up on this one, would you?

Compete has similar findings:

AOL does add some sort of inscrutable caveat to the rankings, indicating in its press release that the "Men" category in which Asylum ranks as No. 1 was "custom built by AOL." This is true also for seven other MediaGlow sites -- all ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in their vertical: BlackVoices, AOL Horoscopes, AOL Latino, Lemondrop.com, TheBoomBox.com, TheBoot.com and StyleList.com.

So, are media buyers using these same "custom" categories? Uh, no. The buyers out there already have better statistics than what AOL's giving them -- and those show who's really leading the verticals in which the new division operates.

Taken in the context of AOL's plans for MediaGlow, the Time Warner unit is going to be pouring in cash to further develop these properties and to support more sites along this model.

But with the actual success of its properties something of an open question, AOL, as I mentioned before, certainly has its work cut out for it.

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