AOL Reorganizes to Accommodate Bebo
With the acquisition of the social network Bebo now officially closed, AOL is undertaking an internal reorganization. Joanna Shields, who had served as Bebo's CEO, will become an executive vice president of AOL, and take the title of president of the new People Networks division, which will also include the AIM and ICQ messaging services.
Shields will report to AOL President and COO Ron Grant.
AOL, which will soon be spinning off its dial-up Internet service unit, is now organized into three divisions: the publishing and newly created people networks, and its Platform A advertising network. Per comScore, Platform A has the widest reach of any advertising network on the Web.
With the Bebo acquisition, AOL bought itself a stake in the frothy social networking world that everyone wants to be a part of but no one's figured out how to make money from yet.
"Unlike other social networks, which have had a difficult time monetizing their sites without jeopardizing the user experience, Bebo created an environment that enables advertisers, brands and media companies to engage in meaningful, relevant conversations with its users," Grant said in a statement.
Bebo prides itself on what it calls "engagement marketing." AOL is boasting that big-name advertisers such as Nike and Apple have successfully inserted their brands into the conversations that go on among friends on Bebo, taking advantage of the unique promise of the social networking communities. Facebook and MySpace, AOL is quick to point out, have so far failed to live up to their promise on the advertising front.
AOL said it will work quickly to roll its IM, mail and chat applications into Bebo, and will allow users to merge their AIM and Bebo profiles so they can work under a common screen name.