Summary:

Bit by bit, AOL’s once-ambitious Platform-A (NYSE: AOL) network is de-emphasising refocusing. The latest example – AOL (or should that be “A…

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Bit by bit, AOL’s once-ambitious Platform-A (NYSE: AOL) network is de-emphasising refocusing. The latest example – AOL (or should that be “Aol”?) is disposing of Buy.at, the affiliate marketing network it bought two years ago.

London-based affiliate marketer Digital Window, which is majority-owned by a JV of Axel Springer and PubliGroupe, is buying the company, saying it will combine the offering with its AffiliateWindow, price comparison site ShopWindow and content customiser ContentWindow for customers in the UK, USA and Scandinavia. The announcement was made by Digital Window and not AOL and came as a surprise. No price disclosed.

AOL formed Platform-A in 2008 – during an 18-month advertising acquisition binge including Tacoda, Quigo, Buy.at, Advertising.com, AdTech and Third Screen Media – to offer full-service online ad services to its own properties and third parties. But the unit’s leadership has changed plenty after new CEO Tim Armstong’s AOL-wide review, renaming it AOL Advertising.

The changes are more than just cosmetic – now Armstrong’s AOL, through the former Mediaglow division (now AOL Media) is placing emphasis on being a niche web content publisher and, some might say, downplaying its ad proposition.

Earlier this month, Armstrong said AOL Advertising is preparing a new ad platform. It’s likely any remaining parts of AOL Advertising will want to focus on selling ads on AOL’s own burgeoning array of niche sites – but perhaps it’s curious to scrap an affiliate marketing unit when ecommerce sales, unlike the advertising economy, are still proving healthy.

Reuters: “Buy.at has annual sales of more than 40 million euros and about 70 employees.”

Update: Pieces of AOL emailed statement…

“Since last year, AOL has been moving through a process that started with strategy, then focused on structure, and has more recently been centred on aligning our costs with the company

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