Yep, AOL (TWX) is still going to report a weak Q1 with revenue flat to down slightly from a year ago, but the news isn’t all bad. In fact, one aspect of AOL’s revamp as an ad-supported media company seems to be going reasonably well. Unique visitors to AOL’s (TWX) sites are up 15% in Q1 to 56.6 million unique visitors, according to comScore, outpacing total U.S. Internet growth of 5.9%.
The WSJ credits the boost to redesigned category sites such as news, sports and health, but also new site launches such as Asylum, BlackVoices and Switched. AOL plans to launch 20-30 new Web properties this year, including a female-oriented site. AOL bought another site today: Fleaflicker, a New Jersey-based fantasy sports site. One exception to the good news: AOL’s kids site, which is still getting trounced by Disney (DIS) and Nickelodeon (VIA).
So the question is why AOL’s ad network, Platform-A, hasn’t been able to turn higher traffic into higher dollars. No doubt restructuring and integration turmoil played a factor, along with slow Web ad sales, particularly in media and entertainment. But if recent whispers are to be believed, “flat to slightly down” would be a victory for AOL in Q1.
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