AOL Gets Ambitious; comScore Reports On Digital Media Power Players

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AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is setting ambitious goals for the company, like reaching 2 billion users and generating up to $20 billion in revenue by 2020. Considering AOL currently has 700 million users and saw $2.7 billion in revenue last year, those are lofty expectations. “If you are going to take on Facebook and Google, Verizon and AOL make for a nice powerful property,” said Robert Peck, managing director and Internet equity analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “But you need bigger scale to make you as relevant.” Verizon’s subscriber data set is one kind of scale, but there are other ways to bulk up. “Yahoo gets you there,” says Peck. More.

Scoring Big

ComScore published its report on the “2016 US Cross-Platform Future” on Wednesday, which has some good data points on digital media power players. First off, compared to the tier of Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest, Facebook is so far ahead you can barely get it on the same graph. On the legacy media front, comScore also shows huge digital gains for The Washington Post, Condé Nast, Dow Jones (which publishes The Wall Street Journal), Daily Mail and others. Download (pay with some PII).


Adblock Plus (ABP), a prominent ad-blocking startup operated by the German tech company Eyeo GmbH, continues to wipe the courtroom floor with German publishers. ABP is 5-0 in legal disputes after winning a case against the newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” which (unsuccessfully) argued there is a tacit contract between publishers and readers regarding ad-supported site content. “This is really just the next sequel in the series ‘Giant German Media vs. Adblock Plus,’” writes ABP’s Ben Williams. ”And you kinda know the ending by now, am I right?” I do not.  

Pony Up

Agencies are having trouble retaining middle managers. Many feel limited by options for advancement, with pressure from the C-suite above and junior professionals below, with roles that don’t match their job titles. They get fed up with low pay and move on to greener pastures, either on the client side or to entrepreneurial tech. “Forty to 50 percent of people who leave don’t stay in the agency world,” said Kristen Metzger, MEC’s managing partner and head of people and culture. “If they do, it usually means they need a promotion and a better salary.” More.

Programmatic IQ

Digital and programmatic expertise has been working its way up the ranks of media companies across the board. Snapchat recently poached execs from Facebook’s and Google’s ad operations, and yesterday Pinterest promoted its advertising and API chief to president. At the industry’s opposite pole, media giants like WPP have been squeezing the same ad tech knowledge up its corporate ladder [AdExchanger coverage]. Even in the broadcast world, ad tech leaders get treated like prized assets. While over at Verizon there’s speculation that AOL chief Tim Armstrong is being groomed to run the whole company down the line.

Header Bidding Wars

Another premium publisher is considering header bidding, writes Ronan Shields of The Drum. The Guardian has reportedly tapped AppNexus and Rubicon Project to test the technology, which has generated enthusiasm as a possible cudgel against Google, which benefits from the standard waterfall approach (though it’s working on a header bidding solution of its own). “Ad tech was supposed to be brought about to offer an open, liquid market place, and what some of this debate shows is that it’s not,” said Martin Kelley,CEO of Infectious Media. More.

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