Tim Armstrong: One giant leap for AOL?

He's been CEO of AOL for 100 days. So the former Google ad sales exec has done a bunch of interviews, and here's what he said.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

This week there is just no shortage of dudes named Armstrong in the press. There's the one who rides bikes and likes to tweet about it, the one who walked on the moon 40 years ago, and then there's Tim Armstrong, who has officially been CEO of AOL for 100 days as of Monday.

So he celebrated with press coverage! Armstrong interviews were published Monday on by the Associated Press, AllThingsD, AdWeek, and Advertising Age, and AOL advertising chief Jeff Levick talked to PaidContent. We hope Armstrong also commemorated the 100-day mark with some cupcakes, because while press coverage about ambitious future plans is generally a good thing for a new and already scrutinized executive, it doesn't taste good with buttercream frosting.

So what did Armstrong say? Basically, a whole lot about reinvention. AOL is slated to be spun off from parent company Time Warner in November, and will "be focused on scaling content, advertising, e-mail, messaging and local, but making it easier and less complicated," according to AllThingsD.

That may mean ditching some products--there are over 100 advertising products in AOL's portfolio, for example. And AOL has removed some of the ads from its own sites, making them appear less cluttered (like MapQuest, which had its 17 ads narrowed down to seven, per AdAge). But according to PaidContent, AOL will be ramping up its display advertising business, attempting to take hold of a niche in the market that has been in decline as search ads rose to prominence.

AOL, meanwhile, is "happy" with its search deal with Google, which is set to expire next year, but Armstrong, who headed up sales at Google before his hire at AOL, didn't tell any of the various reporters who pestered him whether they'd renew it. But he did hint that Bebo, the $850 million social-networking buy that AOL made last year, is basically getting shelved.

"Bebo has an opportunity to prove its products and services," Armstrong said to AdAge. "I would argue that the integration of Bebo (with AOL) is less important than having Bebo focus on its core product and service and really try to improve in the social-networking space." The social network has been grouped into AOL Ventures, a side arm of the company for acquisitions and investments outside of AOL's main content and advertising businesses.