RealTime IT News

AOL Creates Cross-Media Group

AOL Time Warner is aiming to make it easier for itself to strike advertising deals that use both its online and offline properties, by creating a new group dedicated to that purpose.

The new Global Marketing Solutions unit of New York-based AOL will oversee the creation and selling of what the company described as "total marketing solutions" -- offerings that will package the company's America Online, Web, and interactive TV units into advertising deals with its network, cable, magazine, point-of-purchase and custom publishing properties.

The unit will report to the company's Advertising Council, an executive-level group comprised of representatives from each AOL division, which sets overall advertising policy.

To combine the online with the offline, AOL appointed its top interactive marketing executive to head up the unit. Myer Berlow, former president of worldwide interactive marketing, will assume the role of president at the new group.

"Since our merger, we've seen tremendous interest in what we have to offer from both partners and agencies, and we look forward to meeting their needs," Berlow said. "No other company can provide marketers and advertisers with our incredible range of industry-leading assets."

In recent months, AOL has seen enormous success in structuring such deals. Recent cross-media ad agreements include work with partners like eBay, Philips and Bank of America.

Such agreements are becoming more and more common as media companies seek to beat the weak ad market. By offering customized promotions or additional media at reduced rates, firms possessing both on- and offline assets can sweeten the deal for prospective clients.

Last quarter, the company saw ad and commerce revenues from its America Online division shoot up 14 percent from the year earlier -- in a time when most online publishers and marketing firms are seeing serious two-digit declines in revenue. (Yahoo!, for instance, saw a 33 percent decline in year-to-year revenues for second quarter.)

"We have had great success to date and will continue that success moving forward," said AOL co-chief operating officer Bob Pittman. "The Global Marketing Solutions group highlights our intense focus on transforming the way advertisers and marketers reach consumers through innovative cross-platform solutions that leverage all of our unmatched media resources. By working at the direction of the Advertising Council, Myer and Global Marketing Solutions will provide the mechanism to pull together all of the company's assets to benefit our partners."

In addition to Berlow, AOL announced that Julie Kantrowitz would join the new group, as chief operating officer. Kantrowitz previously served as executive vice president for media sales at Warner Bros. Domestic Television.

Also, in keeping with the changes in its central corporate structure, AOL also appointed AOLTV president Robert Friedman to head up the interactive marketing group at its America Online division. As president, Friedman will report to America Online chief executive Barry Schuler, work with Berlow in cross-media deals, and represent AOL on the Advertising Council.