AOL Time Warner, which is promoting itself as “the world’s first Internet-powered media and communications company,” is stepping up its efforts to leverage its newly acquired cross-media capabilities — announcing several new on- and offline ad deals that expand on previous agreements.
For one, a deal announced Wednesday with Cendant Corporation enables New York-based AOL Time Warner to expand a formerly online-only advertising relationship to include print magazines and cable.
Cendant, also based in New York, provides real estate, travel and direct marketing consumer and business services, and previously had an advertising relationship with AOL to promote its Netmarket and Travelers Advantage online sites. Those promotions will continue, but according to terms of Wednesday’s deal, AOL Time Warner will also begin promoting various offline brands of Cendant’s, including Avis, Century 21, Jackson-Hewitt and Ramada.
“We’ve had a great relationship with America Online, and we’re very excited by the new cross-platform opportunities an alliance with AOL Time Warner can provide,” said Cendant chairman, president and chief executive Henry Silverman. “Working with AOL Time Warner offers us a seamless package of promotions that make sense for a multi-brand corporation like Cendant. ”
Ads and sponsorships for Cendant’s companies will appear across AOL’s online properties — AOL, AOL.COM, CompuServe and Netscape — as well as with Time Inc. magazines and CNN programming. Financial terms and specific magazine properties were not disclosed.
“We’re delighted to reach this new alliance between AOL Time Warner and Cendant”, said AOL Time Warner’s co-chief operating officer, Bob Pittman. “This agreement … highlights the online and offline marketing power that the AOL Time Warner company can provide.”
Like Cendant, Nortel Networks previously enjoyed a relationship with a company now included in the AOL Time Warner media behemoth, and is now trading up to cross-media advertising and sponsorship.
The Toronto-based Internet infrastructure and network company had an earlier advertising relationship with several of Time Inc.’s magazines. But following a new deal announced this week, it will launch a new series of ads in magazines including the domestic and international editions of Time and Fortune.
Through an earlier, separate agreement with CNN, Nortel had the exclusive sponsorship rights on the “Tech Watch” segment of CNN’s “Moneyline” news program. Wednesday’s deal continues that arrangement, while adding new sponsorships of technology areas in AOL, AOL.COM, CompuServe and Netscape, as well as on CNN’s online properties. AOL’s emerging media segments — AOLTV, AOLbyPhone and AOL Mobile — will also include Nortel-sponsored content.
Through a third deal, AOL will reprise earlier sponsorships of specific Warner Music Group artists with a group-wide agreement to promote WMG artists across several of AOL’s online properties, including the Music and Entertainment Channels of the AOL service, MP3 player site Winamp.com, and streaming radio site Spinner.com.
The WMG deal includes time-limited, secure digital downloads of selected audio tracks, music video excerpts, artist-branded Spinner stations, chats, and bulletin boards. AOL also receives the right to bundle its software on selected artists’ CDs.
Warner Music Group, a subsidiary of Time Warner, previously had ad and sponsorship deals with AOL to promote new releases by Madonna and matchbox twenty. Now, through the expanded agreement, AOL will promote other artists signed to its sister division, including Barenaked Ladies, Bjork, Jewel, REM, and Missy Elliot.
A fourth agreement signed Wednesday expands an existing relationship between AOL and private-label e-marketplace firm PurchasePro.
The agreement between the two firms represents an expansion of a preexisting strategic alliance last year that included the establishment of a e-commerce destination, the Netbusiness marketplace.
Now, a multi-million dollar ad campaign will promote Las Vegas-based PurchasePro on AOL Time Warner’s magazines — including Fortune and FSB: Fortune Small Business — and CNN.
The deals, while certainly advantageous for AOL Time Warner, raise some questions about whether traditional marketers will begin to shy away from online media, with its questions of effectiveness and measurement, unless a buy includes an offline component.
The media giant has been tight-lipped on the way it’s cross-selling its new properties, but if AOL Time Warner begins promoting its online media simply as an “add-on” to magazine and cable buys, Web publishers could face a crisis of positioning as they struggle to justify an online-only spend to traditional advertisers.
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