Aol Q2 Display Showing Audience Buying Trend; Say Media Announces Vertical Strategy; Bizo And comScore Indexing

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Aol Reports Q2 And Display Deets

Yesterday, Aol reported its Q2 2011 revenues as the bottom line showed a modest and improved net loss and the top line hit $542 million which came in better than Wall Street expectations of $530 millions. Read the earnings release. Display showed signs of momentum as CEO Tim Armstrong began the earnings call with analysts saying, “In Q1, we grew display revenue for the first time in four years (…) and for the first time in three years, AOL grew global advertising revenue.” But, looking deeper into the display details, there was good news and mediocre news. had an impressive quarter with 29% growth ($94 million in Q2 revs) and though Project Devil (big ads!) is showing growth, it’s not as quickly as expected. Aol is still educating clients and creating a scalable opportunity on the sell-side said Armstrong who added that new sales chief Ned Brody is involved: “One of the changes with Ned is connecting Devil into the network and into – owned and operated properties [to provide a] much higher scale.” So, the message here is that the premium display strategy is still lagging and the ad network biz – – is ramping. The premium display results echoes Yahoo!’s Q2 display debacle. Citi analyst Mark Mahaney adds that publisher WebMD also showed a similar display lag. Is the move toward audience buying taking over? Or is this a pause in premium display ad buying caused by marketers who feared a wider economic meltdown and more cautious consumer? Both seem possible. Read the entire earnings call transcript on Seeking Alpha. Citi analyst Mark Mahaney said in a note to investors that he’s still lukewarm about Aol prospects: “[Revenue] upside came from 3rd Party Advertising and not from Domestic Display, the key to AOL’s turnaround. (…) Reiterate Hold – In Q2, we’ve seen Yahoo!, WebMD and AOL report lower Display Rev – which could be signs of increased competition from Ad Networks and Social Media for Premium Ad dollars.” Listen to a recording of the Aol earnings call webcast here. Aol’s stock was hammered by 30% yesterday. Read more from The New York Times.

Demand Media Reports, Acquires

Demand Media reported its second quarter 2011 results with revenues increasing 32% to $79.5 million and resulting in a net loss of $2.4 million – much less than the year prior. Read the IR release. Kara Swisher of All Things D said results beat Wall Street expectations and that Demand Media has renewed its ad deal with Google (read the Google deal release) which means that on behalf of Demand Media, Google “would extend its display advertising and premium ad serving arrangements and that its properties ‘will be included in premium, brand-safe channels within Google Display Network Reserve.'” GDN Reserve! Google is taking the place of the publisher’s direct sales team here and selling to ad networks, agencies and even the direct advertiser potentially. Read Swisher’s “live blog” of the earnings call here as the company discusses its acquisition of IndieClick – a publisher and ad network of sorts.

First-Party Data Rules

Media Contacts account director Jessica Richards is unimpressed with all the talk about data – particularly third-party data – for audience segments which lack scale and increasingly have become commoditized as everyone piles on to media buying with a data-enabled, targeting overlay. Leveling with the reader, she writes, “Trust me; I am not discounting the importance of data for optimizing, learning, and targeting your audience. However, the most valuable data you have is your own.” Read more.

Ad Networks Are Media Companies, Too

Say Media has bought a home decorating website called Remodelista as companies-formerly-known-as-ad-networks become media companies. From the release, “SAY Media today announced it has acquired Remodelista (…) to build out its portfolio of owned and operated properties across key consumer interest areas including Home, Food, Tech, Style and Pets. This acquisition marks an important step forward in the company’s goal to enable the next wave of vertical media.” It’s beginning to appear that Say Media, Glam Media and Specific Media are cut from the same cloth: ad networks looking to capture publisher margin while leveraging their own tech – as well as provide quality, media company content. Read more.

Publisher Tech Conundrum

Adweek’s Erin Griffith states emphatically, “There’s no such thing as a CMS (content management system) success story.” Sounds harsh, eh? But according to Griffith elegant and affordable automation that allows for the publishing of website content remains elusive. She even gets Time Inc. CIO Mitch Klaif to admit, “There’s nobody that can walk in the door for any price tag and say, ‘We have the solution.'” This is an example where venture capital and tech entrepreneurs have little incentive to fund and deliver products for publishers. Pubs don’t want to spend nearly as much compared to the buy side since it doesn’t make bottom-line sense. Read more. Is WordPress the future CMS for Time Inc.?

More Data For Data

Looking to provide insight on the value of its audience data, Bizo announced that its B2B audience data has been indexed against comScore’s panel. How does it play out? For example, and according to the release, “Bizo’s Business Services audience is 147 percent more likely to visit Car Rental sites available through the Bizo platform.” Interesting to see how comScore has expanded its business to include audience indexing on not only ad networks and publishers, but data providers, too. Read more.

Hiring Analytics

Media buying services and ad tech company Accordant Media Craig Schinn as the company’s head of analytics. In a release, the company said, “Schinn brings more than 11 years of digital marketing and analytics experience to Accordant. Most recently, he ran analytics for Razorfish, where his experience spanned RTB, search marketing, CRM and Web site optimization.” Read more.

For The Engagement Crowd

Solve Media’s Ari Jacoby, whose company specializes in the CAPTCHA ad, takes the theme of engagement to iMedia Connection with a piece on why standard banner ads suck – and don’t engage. He writes, “Online advertisers have tried and pretty much failed to make an impression with banner ads sidelined in the margins of a web page, or with pop-ups and interstitials that interrupt the viewer’s online experience.” CAPTCHA more.

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