AOL’s Top 5 Blunders of 2007

AOL's top 5 blunders of 2007

For the average person surfing the Web, AOL didn’t stand out for a lot of well-publicized blunders this year, in stark contrast to their inability to stay out of the press last year for fiascos that would embarrass any company with a moral compass, much less a company that once was the Internet. All the same, AOL’s blunders this year were surprising for how clearly they showed AOL’s lack of integrity, dignity, and direction. Unlike last year I had no problem deciding how to order this list, so no coin-flipping this time…

AOL leaks layoff news, handles layoffs by email, and mocks laid off AOLers.

Say what you want about AOL’s inability to catch up to the Internet these days, they sure can blow the playing field wide open for how layoffs are handled. How about employing managers who are so burnt up over how badly AOL treats them that they willingly leak details of the who, what, when and why of October’s layoffs to Silicon Valley Insider, making a previously shamed Henry Blodget of former stock analysis fame once more well-known and well-liked among industry insiders of all stripes?

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AOL layoff synopsis: the clueless fire the clues.

AOL is in a dreadful state of affairs with Randy Falco and Ron Grant (aka “Smithers & Burns”, a snarky insider reference to characters on The Simpsons) now running the show. I said last year that AOL was moving away from access into advertising, that Falco did not understand the Internet or any aspect of AOL’s business, and I always thought that tiny Ron Grant, (i.e. “Falco’s brain” or some such thing) was fairly clueless. I haven’t called it wrong yet, so love me or hate me, don’t say I never gave you a good (and early) warning.

Randy Falco: as always, without a clue. Image credit: bobzmudaguy@flickr.com

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AOL Headquarters to Move Above NYC KMart

AOL's New Home

I’m heartened to learn AOL is moving their headquarters next spring from Dulles Virginia, where they’ve been situated since 1985, to NY City, since I won’t be there.

The new location is a place I missed working at by just a hair some years ago: 770 Broadway, a floor above a company I almost transferred to about 12 years ago. I lived on Long Island at the time surrounded by farms and fields, and I liked the scenery, so I turned the move down, and wound up leaving New York, anyway. Now if I move back I know where not to uh…shop.

AOL’s air-brained Randy Falco claims moving to NY will send:

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Please God, Just One More Bad Year

Say a prayer

Time to watch the ship start sinking; AOL can’t bail out much longer. Breaking news at the Washington Post quotes Rob Enderle, a principal analyst for the Enderle Group, saying that unless AOL becomes more competitive, “this property will be without value by this time next year.”

AOL had its worst quarter since changing its business model last summer to regain money lost from over 14 million fleeing subscribers. Giving away free access to AOL’s software and premium content while attaching ads to member’s inboxes and emails was supposed to staunch the painful flow of lost dollars. For a while the ad-based model seemed to have some hope. AOL claimed profits rose around 40% for each subsequent quarter, but profit rose just 16% last quarter, and past examination proves most of the increase was from advertising.com, an AOL subsidiary that places ads on third-party websites, not on AOL’s.

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Big Adbroker Online Is Watching You

Big Adbroker Online is Watching You

AOLers, say hello to Big Brother. Your privacy on the Web is over with. In stunning news this week after a backlash against AOL’s data leak of nearly a million user’s search records, AOL has acquired Tacoda, which uses technology to monitor client’s customers so you can see lots of “personalized” ads.

So how does Tacoda work? The way most adware and spyware programs do. They monitor every website you visit, whether it’s an AOL property or not. The information is collected and analyzed to see which sites you visit the most. Advertising is delivered based on the results. Say you visit a lot of websites about flowers; you’ll see lots of gardening ads. Every possible “interest” of yours is analyzed so you’ll see ads that lead you to buy from as many of AOL’s ad partners as possible.

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Shame On CNN

11-22-2006: CNN did a bad thing in the “eyes” of search engine spiders, Google Pidgeon Rank™ and other indices of web page spamiliciousness: they duped their own content about Yahoo! acquiring AOL, then changed the date for it. I’m a bit of a prig, so before I even knew what was happening, my keyboard was tapping out comments to blogs.marketwatch.com (page no longer exists). While I’m no fan of Google, why let a site get penalized for what they warn webmasters not to do in Webmaster Guidelines?

“…the “Quality Guidelines”…outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index.”

One practice you should avoid:

“Don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.”

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