AOL moved into its new New York headquarters today, and new ad boss Lynda Clarizio has roped Verizon into paying a portion of the lease. The companies announced a deal today that will make AOL's Platform-A the exclusive manager of Verizon's Web and wireless ads. That inventory includes 94 million pageviews a month. It's Clarizio's first big deal after replacing Curt Viebranz in an internal coup earlier this year. He was the the sixth advertising chief at AOL since 2001. But should we be that impressed?
Probably not. For one thing, brokering ads, while trendy right now, is a lower-margin business than selling ads on a website a publisher owns. AOL will have to split any profit with Verizon. And Verizon's inventory, like AOL's, is likely heavy on pageviews from Web-based email and other low-value traffic.
Tacoda, the company whose acquisition brought Viebranz to AOL, had promised to boost significantly the value of ads on those pages. Executives at AOL's Advertising.com unit, including Clarizio, were skeptical of Tacoda's claims, and opposed the acquisition. After Viebranz's ouster, Clarizio now has to prove what insiders at Advertising.com argued: They could do a better job than Tacoda at making money from those ads.