NEW YORK - (AOL) has been through so many transformations, premature deaths and tantalizing re-generations that the Internet company best known for piloting the worst merger in U.S. business history is attempting to fashion itself yet again, this time as a technology company that produces a lot of premium-video content.
When AOL CEO Tim Armstrong takes a New York stage Monday evening to host what he's billing as the first-ever online programming upfront, Bob Lord, the former CEO of digital marketing trailblazer Razorfish and the Publicis Group, will likely be nearby.
And for good reason. Though Susan Lyne, formerly of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) and ABC Entertainment is handling the creation of AOL's lineup of original programming, Lord has been tasked with selling the content upfront, in the same manner that television networks like (CBS) have been selling advertising time on their broadcasts for much of the past 60 years.
"Monday is a watershed moment not only for AOL but for Internet programming," said Robert Peck, Sun Trust Robinson managing director and Internet analyst in a phone interview. "It's the first time we've seen something like this happen, and it demonstrates that Tim is trying to embrace the trend to premium-video content that his advertisers are telling him is happening."
AOL may still be best known for its disastrous $350 billion merger with Time Warner (TWX) in 2000. But in the four years since the two companies split, the digital publisher has quietly acquired an array of Internet advertising platforms that let machines buy and sell online ads, especially more lucrative video ads (as opposed to display advertising).