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Summary:

Reflecting the urgency to fix AOL, the Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) division announced a series of moves this morning designed to highlight its r…

Reflecting the urgency to fix AOL, the Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) division announced a series of moves this morning designed to highlight its role in advertising. Among them: a literal move of the corporate HQ to New York City from Dulles.

The advertising changes include the creation of Platform A, an amalgam of AOL’s various advertising businesses that meshes Advertising.com with more recent acquisitions Tacoda, Lightningcast, Adtech and Third Screen Media. AOL claims that Platform A already reaches more than 90 percent of of the U.S. online audience.

Effective immediately, the new ad organization will be led by former Tacoda CEO Curtis G. Viebranz, who has been appointed AOL EVP and president of Platform A and reports to AOL president and COO Ron Grant. Viebranz was formerly CEO of TACODA. Lynda Clarizio, who continues to head Advertising.com, and Kathy Kayse, who will run AOL brand solutions, will report to Viebranz. No financial terms disclosed but the co-branded portal will be the default homepage and the co-branded toolbar and search will be default settings in various countries

Mike Kelly, president of AOL Media Networks since it was formed in 2004, is out. An AOL spokesperson told me: “Mike will not be part of the new organization, but will be staying on to help in the transition as he assesses other opportunities.”

AOL’s new corporate HQ will be at 770 Broadway; NYC-based advertising and programming will be there as well.

The changes follow a pattern with AOL of following disappointing news — in this case, the recent lowering of ad revenue growth estimates — with reorganizations meant to show the company is taking aggressive steps. Time Warner COO Jeff Bewkes, whose own career is closely aligned with AOL’s success as he waits to be voted in as CEO, makes a cameo in the announcement: “With these changes, Randy Falco, Ron Grant and their team have positioned AOL to benefit fully from the trends that are reshaping the online advertising business and to expand AOL’s leadership in it.”

AOL-HP: Also announced this morning, an expanded relationship with Hewlett-Packard including co-branded, localized versions of its portal, toolbar and search on HP desktop and notebook PCs sold worldwide. Again, this is meant to show AOL is being aggressive about increasing its reach in the U.S. and globally. Release.

  1. Not sure if this move serves AOL's shareholders well. Moving to NYC, while appearing to be a "smart" move on the surface, carries huge costs. In this day and age, one can be as close to the "ad biz" while working out of any location in the world and without the cost.

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  2. AgreeWithSocial Monday, September 17, 2007

    I don't think they're moving to be closer to the ad business. The top senior executives that have been appointed within the last year (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.) all live in the New York area, and they're tired of commuting every week to VA. That's the real reason for the relocation.

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  3. It seems pretty clear what will happen next, now that the portal has been effectively separated from the rest of the business, which is now called "Platform A" — layoffs in December (a holiday tradition at TW) followed by a sale of the AOL brand, for whatever that's still worth.

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