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AOL To Bolster Display Ad Offerings With Pictela Pick-Up

AOL announced that it has acquired ad platform firm Pictela. The company makes what is described as a "high-definition brand content platform" for online advertising and social media. This follows other recent acquisitions by AOl, such as that of TechCrunch, Thing Labs, 5min Media, and StudioNow. 

Report: Brand Perception Suffers in 2010 for Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace
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WebProNews received some interesting findings from YouGov BrandIndex, indicating that it has not been a good year for public perception of social media brands (which in this case includes Google, Yahoo, Bing, and AOL, in addition to more obvious brands like Facebook and MySpace).

AOL Reportedly Considering Break Up to Attract Yahoo Merger

AOL and Yahoo both have new focuses on churning out content. This is one reason why some industry analysts have suggested that the two companies would be a good fit for a merger. It’s made for interesting conversation, but there has never been any substantial evidence that the two companies would ever pursue such an endeavor. 

MapQuest Launches Free Gasoline Sweepstakes For The Holidays
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AOL’s MapQuest has launched a month-long “Free Gas for a Year” sweepstakes for the holiday season.

MapQuest will be giving away free gas for a year to 31 people, one winner, everyday, during December.

AOL Gets Big on Video

AOL has launched a new AOL Video division, which the company says will aggregate its online video library assets under one "strategic umbrella." The company also says it delivers on the entire video value chain from creation through syndication to distribution, consumer experience and monetization. 

AOL Announces Email Redux Ahead of Expected Facebook Email Announcement
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Facebook is expected to make an announcement today that could have a huge impact on the email industry, but AOL made an announcement first. The company has unveiled a preview of a new version of AOL Mail, which it’s referring to as "Project Phoenix."

AOL Launches New Video Program

 AOL said today it has launched an original video program that will be featured on its recently relaunched homepage.

AOL’s “The One,” launches today and was created in partnership with Next New Networks, a provider of original video content.

Investors Show Support For Yahoo-AOL Deal

Starting late yesterday, a fresh round of rumors began to circulate about a possible Yahoo-AOL deal.  Then other sources and experts denied that anything’s taking place.  But investors still seem to be excited about the concept, sending Yahoo and AOL’s stocks up a significant amount in early trading.

AOL Achieves Big Q3 Profits

Earlier this morning, AOL delivered its third-quarter earnings report, and while there were significant problems, the company was able to impress investors.  AOL’s stock is now up 6.05 percent, which is more than a decent way for it to start the day.

That increase is in part due to the fact AOL was able to report $563.5 million in total revenue, even though analysts thought the company would just report $557.0 million.  Also, thanks to the sale of Kayak and ICQ, AOL managed to report $171.6 million in profit – a 132 percent year-over-year jump.

AOL Sells Office Buildings And Land For $144.5 Million

AOL said today it is selling  four of its office buildings it no longer uses and two undeveloped pieces of land on its Dulles, Virginia campus to CB Richard Ellis Realty Trust for $144.5 million.

Artie-Minson AOL said as of today it has approximately $750 million of cash on hand.

Reports Name Yahoo A Takeover Target (Again)
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Despite the whole Microsoft debacle, it’s still possible – and perhaps likely, judging by the reaction of some investors – that one or more organizations will buy Yahoo.  Rumors about takeover plans have begun to swirl, and Yahoo’s stock has begun to soar.

AOL Brings Back Local Food And Entertainment Guide
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AOL said today it is relaunching its City’s Best online guide to provide local food and entertainment reviews in 25 metro areas.

City’s Best local editors and writers in each market have visited and selected the best food,  and entertainment destinations in each city creating directory listings for each. AOL will invite local users to chose the most popular spots.

 

Should Google Buy Twitter, Yahoo Merge with AOL?
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There is a lot of talk going on about what should or shouldn’t happen among prominent Internet companies (as opposed to what actually is happening). For example, a lot of people have been saying Google should buy Twitter. In many ways, such move would make a great deal of sense for Google, who is looking to up the ante on the social front. Twitter combined with YouTube would be huge for such an initiative. John Battelle makes a case for why this is pretty unlikely though.

Signs That Blogging is Not Only Alive, But More Critical Than Ever
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Every so often, one of those "social media vs. blogs" discussions comes up. Questions like "is social media killing blogging?" gets asked. Time and time again, the answer is a resounding "no", but various pieces of news released this week seem to really drive that point home. 

AOL Acquires Thing Labs and Brizzly

AOL has acquired Thing Labs, makers of Brizzly. Brizzly is a social media reader that lets users view and post updates to Twitter and Facebook., see photos and watch videos.

Google Maps Photo Layer Gets Improvements, MapQuest Launches Atlas

There are a couple interesting things happening with online maps today. Google has updated its Photos layer and MapQuest has introduced Atlas. 

AOL Officially Acquires TechCrunch
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Update: AOL has now officially announced its acquisition of TechCrunch for an undisclosed amount. TechCrunch will continue to operate independently as a wholly-owned AOL unit.

AOL Acquires 5min Media to Bolster Video Content

AOL has acquired video syndication platform 5min Media. 5min claims to reach 160 million unique monthly visitors and has tens of thousands of videos across 20 categories and 140 sub-categories. 

AOL Launches New Display Ad Format

AOL said today that seven brands have signed on as founding partners for its new display advertising format called “Project Devil.”

Found partners include General Mills brands Cheerios, Pillsbury Crescents, Lexus, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble’s Olay, Sprint, and Unilever’s Suave Professionals.

The Town That Google Forgot, Facebook’s Mobile Strategy

Matt McGee at Search Engine Land has an interesting story about the town that disappeared entirely from Google Maps. Sunrise, Florida mysteriously vanished, but was resurrected. Google gave the site the following statement:

AOL And Patch Partner With Colleges On Journalism
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AOL and its subsidiary Patch have launched PatchU, a new network of partnerships between local Patch online publications and colleges and universities, with a focus on helping the next generation of journalists.

The initiative, which launched this fall, offers interships and coursework at local Patch publications to students under the guidance  of Patch’s editors.