AOL has been synonymous with "get off my lawn, you young
whippersnappers" for quite some time. Their massive revenue stream of
dialup subscription money finally dried up completely a couple of years
ago, and they desperately needed to find some other reason for people
to look at their pages. They seem to have managed it the old-fashioned
way; they're offering compelling content and drawing unique visitors.
Now for the tricky bit; making it pay in ad revenue.
to the sites -- including AOL Money & Finance, entertainment, and
the male-oriented Asylum -- grew 15% to 56.5 million unique U.S.
visitors in the first quarter from a year ago, according to comScore
Media Metrix. Measured by traffic, some of the sites even top the
charts for their categories.
AOL still hasn't translated the
surge in visits into higher ad revenue. But the news is positive for
the Time Warner Inc. unit, which has struggled with another initiative
-- building AOL into a major digital ad-sales firm. When Time Warner
reports earnings next week, AOL is expected to post a weak first
quarter, with ad revenue that is flat to slightly down.
wasn't a booming quarter in general for advertising on the Internet, so
running in place might be considered a win for AOL. Eventually, if you
offer good content on the web, the advertising dollars follow you.
Maybe someday it will even be more profitable than AOL's old business
model of selling screaming modem noise by the month.