If the latest buzz in the mobile industry is to be believed, AOL seems to be getting ready to shut down their mobile advertising network.
AOL acquired Third Screen Media, a mobile advertising company, in 2007 for $80 million. According to sources in the know, the new CEO of AOL, Tim Armstrong, and the head of the advertising department Jeff Levick are planning to either shut down the mobile advertising network or just letting all their contracts lapse over a period of time.
It has been reported that AOL is not renewing the deals they have with their existing publishers for their mobile ad network. Instead, these publishers are quietly being allowed to go to AOL’s competitors. AOL has also not put out any new publisher proposals, which obviously means that they are losing a lot of clients, and surprisingly this does not seem to be bothering them, which again indicates an intention to discontinue the business.
A number of current employees of Third Screen Media are reportedly out in the field, hunting for new jobs.
It is believed that AOL will instead focus on developing mobile content and will also rebuild their mobile ad technology, which will then be able to service other AOL-owned properties.
This is certainly a good move at this stage, since AOL will be turning into a separate entity from Time Warner shortly. They will then have businesses like mobile web publishing, AOL Mail, MapQuest, AIM and iPhone apps, which they can monetise.
AOL could always rebuild their mobile advertising business again later with even better technology when the market turns and demand for mobile advertising really picks up.