The One Great Thing AOL Had Going Went Kablooey Last Quarter

Project Devil Ad Specs

AOL’s giant “Project Devil” ads have apparently fallen off in popularity, according to a note by Ben Schacter of the Macquarie Research Group.

He writes, “AOL sold fewer oversized/custom ad units in 4Q’11 (28% of days) than in 4Q’10 (40% of days), and we did not see a single Project Devil ad on the homepage in 4Q.”

The “Project Devil” ads were one of the few big successful, innovative projects from Tim Armstrong at AOL. Instead of a page cluttered with a bunch of small banners he slapped a giant ad on AOL’s page that cost more for advertisers, but was supposed to deliver better results.

In AOL’s Q3 earnings call Armstrong said, “Project Devil momentum continues. Quarter-over-quarter, customers, campaigns and revenue all grew by over 50%.”

The “momentum” must have died off because Schacter says, “Project Devil was a high profile initiative from AOL, and unfortunately, it has been disappointing.”