AOL completed the final stage of its evolution to becoming a full-blown Web media company on Sept. 17, moving its corporate headquarters to New York City and unveiling an integrated ad platform that incorporates online advertising assets from five acquisitions.
AOLs headquarters will be based at 770 Broadway, where Platform A will offer advertisers access to targeting and measurement tools from its third-party sites, as well as AOLs owned and operated sites.
Advertising.com, leader of third-party display networks, forms the core of Platform A, which also integrates the assets from behavioral targeting leader Tacoda, mobile advertising specialist Third Screen Media, video ad platform Lightningcast, and global ad server Adtech AG.
"Weve got advertising and programming teams already in New York, about 400 employees, and we think bringing them together with our senior leadership in the center of the media advertising made perfect sense," an AOL spokesperson told eWEEK.
AOL expects the move to happen in the spring of 2008, the spokesperson said.
Todays reorganization positions the company, formerly based in Dulles, Va., as a viable threat against media and search vendors Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.
AOL, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are looking to bank as much of the online advertising market, which analysts claim is worth several billion dollars, as possible. To do that, the vendors need to build out traffic to their sites, by offering valuable Internet services over PCs and smart phones.
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All of them have built out their war chests through acquisitions.
In addition to AOLs multiple purchases, some of the more notable buys included Microsofts $6 billion purchase of aQuantive, Googles $3.1 billion bid for DoubleClick, Yahoos $680 million acquisition of Right Media and, most recently, its $300 million bid for BlueLithium.
AOLs transformation from the top branded Internet service provider to an advertising power began after the company saw users flocking to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for richer Internet services.
The metamorphosis accelerated after AOL replaced chairman and CEO Jonathan Miller with Randy Falco in November 2006. AOL later appointed Ron Grant as AOLs president and chief operating officer.
Recently, AOL has jazzed up its product and programming lineup, introducing a new beta version of myAOL with a personalized homepage, Mgnet, a visual content discovery and recommendations service designed to search the Web for content based on personal preferences, and feed reading tools built on a personalization platform.
AOL also introduced Bluestring, a media management application, added some muscle to its Web-based AOL Mail and AIM services, and re-launched its News, Sports, Money & Finance and Music channels.
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In other moves today, Curtis G. Viebranz, formerly Tacodas CEO, was tapped as AOLs executive vice president and president of Platform A, reporting to AOL President and COO Ron Grant. Lynda Clarizio, who continues to head Advertising.com, and Kathy Kayse, who will run AOL brand solutions for custom solutions, will report to Viebranz.
AOL said it will continue to have significant operations in Dulles, as well as offices in Mountain View, Calif., and other locations.
In another move to build out its footprint, AOL said it has inked a deal with Hewlett-Packard to offer co-branded, localized versions of its portal, toolbar and search on HP desktop and notebook PCs sold worldwide.
The portal, an extension of an earlier agreement, will be set as the default homepage, and the co-branded toolbar and search will be default settings in various countries worldwide.
AOL will provide HP with co-branded local language portals and toolbars, as well as search solutions for each relevant country. The portals, based on myAOL, will offer consumers space on the home page so they may access content, services and partner offerings from HP and AOL.
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