Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL is offering up yet another initiative to differentiate itself from all of its online competition. This time, it has to do with the news.

As we all know by now, people use the Internet to get their news to such a degree that traditional news media such as print and television have been adversely affected. Here's another known fact: Blogs are pretty popular these days (as if you didn't know). Therefore, AOL wants to leverage the blog format to deliver the news.

The company's press release makes it clear -- it's going after the youth with this news project. Saying it's appealing to a "next generation" audience, AOL wants to ensure that it is taking away as much hip traffic as possible from competitor portals such as Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) MSN. That's because eyeballs are the big game these days for the company, since it no longer relies on subscriptions to its Internet service to bring in the online bacon like it once did -- that game was lost long ago. Instead, AOL has positioned itself as a free content supplier intent on leveraging the growing Web advertising market. (You can still pay AOL to get on the Net, however, if you so choose.)

To this end, AOL wants to make it clear that you've got a couple of options available so you can take part in the fray. The blog-format news site offers interactive elements such as polls, comments by users, and user-submitted news. This isn't News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace by any stretch of the imagination, but little things like these are important to the overall experience.

I checked out the site. There are three separate columns, with the center column dedicated to blogging the news. The right column is dedicated to stories picked up from many other sources, such as The Associated Press, CBS (NYSE:CBS) News, and other AOL content, while the left column features the aforementioned interactive elements.

Was I blown away? Not really, but I thought the design was cool enough. The look was open and clean, and I do have to say that I always enjoy the ability to submit comments. As the company continues with its proactive evolution, it'll need to goof around with all kinds of design changes to keep the advertising revenue growing. It also will need to experiment with value-adding partnerships to fully monetize the eyeballs that come its way; recently, Alyce Lomax talked about AOL's use of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) AdWords technology to better exploit search results

But an important thing to keep in mind is that nothing here is wholly unique -- many Web pages these days have polls and comment features. And blog formats, as I mentioned, are a known motif already. AOL is therefore trying to change along with the rest of the Net and keep itself in tune with the current trend in site designs. I can see these moves bolstering traffic, at least for a little while. As to whether a long-term benefit can be derived, that would remain to be seen. Bottom line: It's a good update, but I don't see it as an incredible enough transformation to cause portals like Yahoo! to shake in their cyberboots.

Past Foolishness on AOL:

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 13,304 out of 31,145 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.