Tomorrow marks the four year anniversary of AOL, once the largest ISP in the US, announcing plans to become an online advertising business. Here is a quick look at what AOL has done over past few years to mark this rebranding effort and a benchmark of how far they have got to go:
September 17, 2007: AOL announces plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from Dulles, Virginia to New York City and combines its various advertising units into a new subsidiary called Platform A. AOL acquires Advertising.com.
October 15, 2007: As part of the impending move to New York and the restructuring of responsibilities at the Dulles headquarters complex, AOL CEO Randy Falco announces plans to lay off 2000 employees worldwide by the end of 2007.
October 16, 2007: 750 employees are laid off at Dulles in a bid to refocus on online advertising. 400 more were laid off a few months later.
2008: AOL creates animated cartoons to explain behavioural targeting to its users, showing how a user’s past visits to other websites could determine the content of advertising they would see in the future.
February 6, 2008: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announces that Time Warner will split AOL's internet access and advertising businesses into two, with the possibility of later selling the internet access division.
April 14, 2008: AOL signs online advertising deal with Verizon.
April 2009: Tim Armstrong, formerly with Google, is named Chairman and CEO of AOL.
November 23, 2009: AOL unveiles a sneak preview of a new brand identity which has the new logo Aol sumperimposed onto figures (for example, a goldfish, a rainbow, a tree, a postcard).
December 10, 2009: The new logo is enacted onto all of AOL's services, just as Time Warner splits from AOL.
September 28, 2010: AOL signs an agreement to acquire TechCrunch to further its overall strategy of providing premier online content.
December 2010: AIM eliminated access to AOL chat rooms noting a marked decline of patronage in recent months.
February 7, 2011: AOL buys the Huffington Post for $315 million.
March 11, 2011: Staff cuts continue at AOL. Just two days after finalising its purchase of The Huffington Post, AOL plans to cull almost 20% of its 5,000 strong global workforce.
March 16, 2011: AOL repositions itself as a key destination for women, as part of a shift in strategy that will see it put the brands of recent site acquisitions above its own.
March 2011: AOL steps up promotion of new ad-serving platforms
April 11, 2011: ADTECH, AOL Advertising’s global ad serving platform, announces a new addition to its suite of ad management offerings, ADTECH Lite.
September 16, 2011: ADTECH, a leading provider of ad serving technology and part of the AOL Advertising.com Group, announces that the company will be using the forthcoming ad:tech London event to present its latest ad serving product, ADTECH Canvas, to its customers.
Despite AOL's effort, online display ad publishers Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft remain well ahead of AOL. In effect, according to comScore figures in the US, AOL's 3% market share of display ad impressions in Q1 of this year pales in comparison to Facebook's 31.2%. Clearly, AOL has failed to make an impact in the past four years, where does it go from here?