AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Remains Upbeat About Company Outlook

11:28 AM PST 12/05/2011 by Georg Szalai
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He tells an investor conference that the integration of the Huffington Post has remained "well ahead of plan" and that he believes in the AOL brand name because users trust it despite some bad history.

NEW YORK - AOL's $315 million Huffington Post acquisition and its integration remain "well ahead of plan," AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong said here Monday at the annual UBS investor conference.

Among other things, the Huffington Post has increased the number of videos it uses since the deal, he said. In terms of numbers, he said 5 percent-10 percent of the Huffington Post used to feature video, but that is now up to 30 percent-40 percent, even 60 percent on some days, Armstrong said.

He reiterated that AOL sees big advertising spending on video advertising, which is why the online company is pushing the use of video.

"We have to be opportunistic," Armstrong said when asked if AOL investors should expect another major content acquisition. But he added that there is currently nothing on the radar.

The CEO also fielded a question about the AOL brand name and whether it was weakened. Armstrong reiterated that there surely is a hangover about the AOL brand in media and some investment circles - particularly following the much-maligned Time Warner merger. "Consumers, who use AOL and continue to use the service, love it," he emphasized though. "People trust AOL....I am a very big [believer] in the AOL brand."

Asked about where the AOL business stands as of late in 2011, Armstrong said "I feel really good about the business this year." He added that "hopefully, we will do more next year." He didn't detail financial expectations for next year.

He also discussed a new five-year Google search deal that the company previously struck. Armstrong called the deal's results "good." He told Wall Street attendees of the UBS conference that he was actually at his old employer Google in Montain View on Thursday to discuss how the search relationship is going.

Asked about several high-profile staff departures this year, Armstrong said that the media business is always noisy in that sense, but he said he always tells colleagues to focus on the business instead of the noise.

Looking into 2012, Armstrong predicted benefits from election season. After all, in Washington, "everyone reads the Huffington Post," he said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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