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Direct & Integrated Marketing Roundtable

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I was thinking about AOL the other day

I know it sounds crazy but I was thinking about AOL the other day...wondering what they have been up to.

For the younger generation, just so you know, AOL was once the online leader. They were the pioneer.

So what are they doing now? Anything up their sleeve?

Well, after some investigation I have found some very interesting things going on and being planned at AOL.

First of all, in case you have not heard, they just hired Tim Armstrong a former Google chief executive. Tim has been credited with building Google's search business worth almost $21 billion in 2008. Quite an accomplishment.

Tim is actually being charged with helping AOL develop their new "performance" based advertising model along with Greg Coleman, an old Reader's Digest ad guy that I knew from my days at the Digest. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/04/03/how-will-armstrong-fare-at-aol/

What you ask? Why in the world is AOL trying to develop a new advertising model when Google has a 57% share of all online ad calls? http://www.attributor.com/blog/google-ad-server-share-now-at-57-microhoo-less-than-15-market-share/

Sounds crazy doesn't it?

Well, not really as it turns out. It appears that AOL has been very busy aggressively purchasing content sites ranging from TMZ, FanHouse and WalletPop to name a few. In fact, the various properties they now own boast 73 million monthly visitors and a 21% page view increase this year alone. In fact they now own 100 different content properties.

So how are they getting the experts to help them manage the content of these properties you ask? Well, as it turns out they have been busy hiring executives and editors that have been laid off from the publishing world. They have been hiring reporters and columnists from publications like the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=103051

So now it all makes sense. AOL is building a network of content sites and as such obtaining a lot of eyeballs. They will have experienced editors and reporters manage these sites. And, they will have Tim and Greg sell the eyeballs using their new advertising model.

Sounds pretty smart to me. Will it work? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Perry

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