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 head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.