AOL Continuing Striking Cross-Selling Deals

On the heels of Yahoo!’s earnings warning Wednesday night, AOL Time Warner is busy cross-selling AOL advertisers into Time Warner offline properties — suggesting an effort to prop up what could be continuing shortcomings in Web ad revenue.

Kinko’s, for instance, is one of the AOL advertisers who will also be expanding to other AOL TW properties. The printing services firm is currently promoted on AOL, CompuServe and Netscape. But now, through terms of a new arrangement, AOL said it would launch a new series of marketing initiatives combining on-air, print and online media.

Continental Airlines, currently featured in AOL’s Travel Channel, also will be promoted through AOL TW’s online, offline and wireless initiatives.

The airline will be “prominently” promoted within the travel channels of several America Online brands, including AOL, CompuServe, and AOL Digital City. Additionally, AOL Mobile users will be able to book Continental Airlines flights and get information using their Internet-enabled wireless phone.

The airline also will be promoted in Time Inc.’s consumer-focused Internet publication ON Magazine — formerly known as Time Digital, and which the company relaunched early this year. Promotional work for Continental in ON will include “Inside AOL” guides featuring travel-related inserts from the airlines.

Another AOL advertiser that the media conglomerate has been able to parlay into making an offline spend is P&O Princess Cruises. The cruise line already advertises across several America Online brands, including AOL, CompuServe, and AOL Digital City. But under the new alliance, P&O Princess Cruises will broaden its marketing campaign to Time Warner’s CNN and CNN Headline News cable TV properties.

AOL Time Warner’s co-chief operating officer Robert Pittman said the expanded agreements “underscore the progress we’re making in expanding our advertising and commerce relationships across our full range of brands.”

“Our businesses are working together to develop ground-breaking integrated programs that not only create more benefits for partners, but also transform the way they interact with consumers. New and existing partners are clearly interested participating in on these programs and we will continue to work with them to develop additional break-through cross-brand initiatives.”

The news comes less than a day after fellow media company Yahoo! warned investors and analysts that its expected revenues would come in short, due to problems in signing new clients to its marketing services. Yahoo! blamed current economic conditions, which were causing traditional advertisers to rethink their spending, and forcing more dot-com advertisers out of business.

Industry watchers had expected that AOL would try to package its harder-to-sell online inventory with offline ad deals. But if Yahoo! is right, and traditional marketers are tightening their spending, Thursday’s announcement by AOL could be interpreted as a way to insure against losses in its online media sector by transitioning clients to offline media.

So in that regard, the increasing effort to promote all of AOL Time Warner’s properties could be viewed as a good idea — since the near-term outlook for online media seems downright gloomy, at least the way Yahoo! sees it. Offline deals with AOL clients could help the media conglomerate squeeze more revenue from advertisers, by serving as a one-stop-shop for all of their media buying needs.

Spokespeople from AOL Time Warner did not return calls by press time.

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