AOL's Tim Armstrong On: Project Devil, Patches' Success & TechCrunch "Chaos"


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Following up with their company's financial earnings being released this morning, Tim Armstrong, AOL CEO and Chairman, and Arte Minson, AOL CFO, took some time this morning to conduct a Q&A with the media about the implications of the Q4 2011 report and to speculate on what AOL hopes to accomplish in 2012.

Armstrong spoke at length about AOL's marketing strategies (it wasn't their fault this was mostly what they talked about - this is what reporters were asking about) and how Project Devil, their advertising platform, is changing advertisements into actual site content. Mentioning how companies like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever have already adopted Project Devil, Armstrong said, "We believe most of the clients in the world, through their agencies, could extend their content through advertising." He continued, "Project Devil is an enterprise system that would go inside the holding companies where we're taking our software and user-interface and basically white labeling it for the holding companies."

Armstrong also talked about the success of Patches, AOL's platform for providing local news coverage to individual areas. Although it wasn't mentioned in the press conference earlier today he did confirm that it had been an overall success thus far. Similar to his explanation for AOL's general success, he said Patches has been done well because of their organizational strategy and sales teams. AOL has implemented 863 Patches overall, each of which they bunch into bundles of 30 to assess the quality and success of each Patch.

When addressing how Patches became profitable, Minson added, "We don't want Patches to be a success based on an individual basis because we could theoretically muscle any Patch into being profitable." He said that the true value of Patches "should be considered within Patches' overall success."

Eventually, someone was going to bring up the big jaundiced bruise on AOL that is TechCrunch and the defection of employees that occurred last year. Deflecting the suggestion that the news site was in "chaos," Armstrong redirected the focus to TechCrunch's "tremendous year" and pointed out some highlights like the conference they hosted in Beijing and the upcoming Crunchie Awards. "Chaos around TechCrunch," he said, "is a limited factor because the site has acquired a lot of value." He went on to explain how TechCrunch has added more talent to their staff and has been receiving "strong interest" from advertisers."