AOL Reports Q1 2010; Yahoo!’s Bartz Sounds Off On Losing Developer Talent; Akamai’s E-Commerce Services Strong in Q1

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AOL Reports Q1

There was across the board decreases in overall display ad revenues in Q1 for AOL according to its latest earnings report yesterday. Display ad revs reached $125.6 million in Q1 2010 compared to $143.8 million in 2009. Instituting a scarcity strategy throughout AOL properties in addition to a sales staff re-org appears to be the culprits according to the release. Buried in the release amid details on Third Party Network revenue declines was this piece of good news: “These Third Party Network declines were partially offset by growth in the core domestic network.” Read the AOL I.R. press release. The Business Insider’s Henry Blodget analyzes what he sees as the “collapse” of Free Cash Flow for AOL and the reasons behind it. Read it. Citibank analyst Mark Mahaney notes what he calls “the big delta”: “AOL guided for ’10 Domestic Display Ad Revenue to decline at a steeper rate than in Q1 – we and the Street had assumed Y/Y Domestic Display growth. Key factor appears to be salesforce re-org – 80% of AOL’s ad accounts have seen a change in AOL sales rep. Weaker than expected outlook also due to continued international closures and impact of Subscriber losses.” Finally, the company announced it was selling ICQ instant-messaging service to the Russian fund group Digital Sky Technologies for $187.5 million.

Yahoo!’s Bartz Speaks In UK

In a visit to the UK, Charles Arthur of says that CEO Carol Bartz of Yahoo! is “‘definitely’ interested in acquiring small start-up companies in the coming year.” Exactly what kinds of startups is unclear except that location-based services will be a part of the story. Also, there was this: “Asked whether [Bartz] was worried that many developers have left Yahoo during her tenure – and that the company might not be viewed as innovative as it had been in the past – she indicated that she was not. ‘You’re going to see us building up a lot more things with the social graph.'” Read more.

Akamai Reports; ADS Strong

Akamai reported its Q1 2010 earnings and beat Wall Street expectations with $240 million in revenues and earnings of 35 cents a share. From yesterday’s earnings call transcript, CFO J.D. Sherman said, “E-commerce continued to be our fastest growing vertical, increasing 19% over Q1 of last year, but declining 5% compared to Q4 due to normal seasonality, primarily in our advertising decision solutions.” Read more on Seeking Alpha.

Quality Is (Data) Job One

“Chef” Ken Rona makes data-driven cuisine on the [x+1] blog with “On The Importance of Data Quality” and his best practices. Within the detailed post, Rona relates an anecdote about a current data provider with whom he worked last month, and illustrates one of his points that data “feeds shouldn’t be ignored.” Rona writes, “I was assured that everything was going to be fine. Come Monday, it turned out that we were not receiving the data.” Get more on data quality.

Vanilla Optimization

Pete Kim looks at Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) programs and what he calls one of its core tenets: “the notion that creative variation leads to higher performance.” The trouble with this is that clients may have different ideas and he labels it “The Curse of the Vanilla” – one identical ad for everyone. Read more on what Kim sees as the answer.

FAN And Compete

Fox Audience Network quietly announced a new product in concert with Kantar Media’s Compete that will bring FAN audience data from over 150 million consumers to the Compete data dashboard. Known as Audience Profiles, it “gives publishers access to a set of exclusive insights that will help them strengthen audience engagement and drive new ad revenue growth.” Agencies and advertisers can use it for planning, too. Read more.

Quant Companies

Angel investor Jerry Neumann (The Trade Desk,, 33Across, Magnetic, Flurry, PerformLine) goes through the archive and unearths the investors in online marketing companies. In spite of a commonly-held belief that only a certain subset of the investment community invests in the complex online “quantitative” marketing universe, he finds quite a few are rolling the investment dice: “There are a lot of different investors. I counted 200 institutional investors in the 90 companies.” Read his report. It’s free!

Internet Usage Going Up

The Nielsen blog reports that according to Nielsen stats, internet usage keeps going up, up, up! For example, in March of 2010, the average PC user’s internet consumption climbed by 3 hours over the previous month – or approximately 5.9%. Are online ad dollars moving this fast? Unlikely. Read Nielsen.

How To Startup

Angel investor and co-editor of Venture Hacks, Naval Ravikant, gives his eight steps on how to properly create a technology startup. His first suggestion is to move to Silicon Valley even though he offers no suggestions on how to manage the traffic snarl. After that, ideas include “#7 – If you have found product/market fit, raise money from high-quality people that you trust. Keep control.” Read them all.

Small Business Marketing

Eduction remains critical for SMBs coming online. Trada CEO Niel Robertson stresses the need for small advertisers to understand their numbers – especially those advertisers who haven’t any idea what a CPL or CPA campaign is. He writes, “Many times businesses are shocked to find out they have been spending $300 to get a sale when they can only accept $50.” Read more.

Privacy Review

From the AudienceScience Targeting Summit, Forrester Research analyst, Shar VanBoskirk, reviews a “privacy update” presentation by AudienceScience’s VP of Product Marketing, Frank Gertsenberger who identifies the four entities swirling around the privacy debate as it relates to behavioral advertising: The FTC, Congress, NAI and The Associations. Read the presentation summary. For notable quotes from the summit, visit the @AudienceScience Twitter feed.

Dead Internet Ideas

Internet sales maven and Upstream exec, Doug Weaver, crafts a two-part post on “The Tyranny of Dead Internet Ideas” echoing Matt Miller’s “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas.” Weaver offers Dead Idea #1 as “Banner as Transportation Vehicle. Not even an anachronism any more. Moving people around the web is just plain stupid. Today’s bandwidth and creative technology make it pretty simple to advertise to people where they are instead of trying to move them where we wish they were. It’s called an impression, not a transfer.” Read more from the first post. Then, the second.

Search Look-Alikes

From The Official Google blog, Google Software Engineer Doantam Phan discusses a new update to the SERPs (search engine result pages) – they’re taking a page from social targeting and adding … page look-alikes! Read more about how Google likes individual pages.

Measuring Brands

Millward Brown has released its top consumer-facing brands report categorized in 17 different ways. Google is the most valuable global brand with a 14% increase according to Millward Brown’s brand value metrics. Apple is #3 and Microsoft is #4. did not make the list this year. View it (PDF).

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