Monday, July 10, 2006

Can AOL Catch Google and Yahoo?

By Kevin Wassong
www.minyanville.com

When I started at J. Walter Thomson in 1998, I sat down with the then world wide COO to talk about interactive advertising and JWT’s position in the market. In terms of interactive, he said to me, “…this is a race for our lives. It used to be that we were looking at our competitors, running right behind them (Ogilvy, BBDO, McCann), but now they are so far in front of us that we can’t even see them anymore. Your job is to get us back into that race.” This is exactly what I did at JWT’s digital arm until leaving the firm at the end of 2004.

In the late 1990’s AOL was one of, if not THE leader in online advertising, garnering the lion’s share of ad dollars being spent on line. The man leading the charge was Meyer Berlow. A hard nosed/shrewd ‘player’ in the media space. He was one of the first meetings I set up as the head of JWT’s interactive division. I knew Myer from an earlier agency I had worked at in California, but Myer had now climbed to the top position at AOL as President for Global Marketing solutions and he could sell advertising. Most of the big fish, Unilever (UL), Proctor & Gamble (PG), all the Automotive manufacturers bought the AOL pitch, hook, line and sinker. In the post Berlow era, AOL lost its drive for the advertising and focused on subscriber growth – does anyone remember the CDs they’d receive in their newspaper offering “25 Hours of AOL FREE!” If I had a nickel for each of those CDs I’d be retired today!

To see Kevin's analysis read the full article at Minyanville.com.

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