Not for the Meek: The Ad Supported Content Business

Tim Armstrong is in sales. Yesterday, in Pasadena AOL’s new CEO tried to sell a roomful of doubters at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference that the company will re-emerge triumphant.
His premise isn’t new. He intends to cultivate or acquire the kind of magnetic content at AOL that will make it easy to support with advertising.
I love how Dawn C. Chmielewski of LA Times frames the scene.

Let’s start with the burning question on everyone’s lips: Why would a senior executive leave Google to take the helm at America Online, the 25-year-old Internet company that Silicon Valley has discounted as a has-been?
The response may befuddle the tech-obsessed, who have turned their attention to instant publishing platform Twitter and sprawling social network Facebook.
“AOL is in a very good space to be a player in the future of the Internet,” Armstrong said.

Kara Swisher was more generous. She allowed some of Armstrong’s vague notions to grace her writeup. Like: “You have to take the Silicon Valley approach to content.”
I think we’re about to learn is whether Tim Armstrong, 38, formerly of The Google, is in fact a great salesman and leader, or whether he rose to prominence on a great product that was easy to sell. For AOL’s sake, let’s hope its the former.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.