Is AOL Next on the Block?

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auction3.jpgADOTAS — Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeff Bewkes, is pursuing merging AOL with another company, according to reports.

The company has put all of its eggs in its advertising basket, spending more than $1 billion on acquisitions and playing a game of musical chairs with its ad chiefs. (Lynda Clarizio is the latest one in the hot seat; she was named president of ad division Platform-A this week, replacing Curtis Viebranz, who spent about five months in the post).

But has the bet paid off?

In August of last year, AOL pledged to expand its ad network by combining all of its acquired ad units and putting them under the Platform-A umbrella. This of course, caused mucho drama and infighting.

“We were ahead of the curve in the creation of Platform A and remain in a great position to compete in this intensely competitive marketplace,” Randy Falco, the chief executive of AOL, told The New York Times. “[T]he trick was to get them working together and integrated in a very meaningful way.”

Yesterday, Bewkes, while speaking at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., said that AOL shared the non-news that AOL will no longer focus on its dial-up subscription services, the Times reports.

Bewkes tried to merge AOL with Microsoft Corp.’s online business and is now in talks with Yahoo Inc. AOL’s ad revenue was still going strong last year, bringing in $2.2 billion in 2007, up 18% over the previous year. This year may not be so rosy, and AOL may fall short of its goals for the year, executives told the Times.

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