AOL's Latest Shuffle; Groupon's Bad Deal

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AOL’s Latest Shuffle

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has often talked about the company’s one constant: change and more of the same. Whether it’s rebranding business divisions or moving executives from one department to another, nothing at AOL stays the same for long. Artie Minson, despite having been promoted less than a year ago to COO from CFO, has been there for years and was noted for helping manage AOL’s spin-off from Time Warner. But he’s going to be leaving the company as his responsibilities were reduced after AOL divided its business into three separate operating groups:  Brand, Network and Membership. The Brand Group has had difficulty building up revenues for its owned & operated sites, including Patch, though progress has been made. To speed things along, AOL has named media veteran -- and AOL board member -- Susan Lyne as CEO of the Brand Group. “In her roles as CEO then Chairman of Gilt, and previously as President and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Susan has a proven track record of brand building and aggressive growth,” Armstrong said. Read the release.

Groupon’s Bad Deal

Daily deals site Groupon disappointed shareholders and board members with another lackluster earnings report. And as a result, CEO Andrew Mason is stepping down and the board is conducting a search for a replacement. Mason is stepping down, as he apparently had run out of time to lessen the company’s reliance on digital coupons. Read the release. The last straw was when Groupon missed revenue estimates of $640.2 million, as sales were $638.3 million, Bloomberg’s Douglas MacMillan reported.“This is still a big work in process for them to transform from just a daily deal business to a local e-commerce engine,” said Edward Woo, an analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets. Read the rest.

Cookie Love

Turn SVP of Product Joshua Koran says that recent changes to prevent cookie tracking of users in Mozilla is a step in the wrong direction (Turn’s business relies, in part, on cookie tracking). He writes in Ad Age, “With the Firefox plan, Mozilla is making a unilateral decision without giving consumers a choice, and blocking even the collection of this anonymous data. We are steadfast advocates for consumer rights and hope that as with other anti-competitive actions, this initiative will be rethought in light of the impact it could have on the online advertising industry and on small publishers.” Read more.  In related news, Adweek reports that U.S. Senator Rockefeller is reviving Do-Not-Track legislation.

The Publisher Agency

In Digiday, Jack Marshall notes the publisher trend of building its own agency (Hearst, Meredith, Conde Nast).  Matt Britton, CEO of social agency MRY, tells Marshall, “Every publisher knows that they can’t build a sustainable business through media agencies. Publishers know they need to try to create direct relationships with brands, and, yes, that puts agencies at risk.” Read it.

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