AOL is now left on the street by Time Warner -- looking to get cab fare to its next gig. So too is that now-passé media business word "synergy."
The biggest merger, and disaster, in
corporate history -- the $150 billion-plus deal
between AOL and Time Warner in 2001 -- came with
of combining traditional media with new digital media in massive marketing
The deal amped up the promise of media's clout: the content/technologies from one media company that can be shared and leveraged and promoted throughout all its divisions in big
Media companies like Walt Disney Co. still extend their branding machine for the likes of "Hannah Montana" through tours, new digital platforms, and record deals. But AOL-Time
Warner's promise turned out to be big entertainment vaporware -- stuff not seen by the naked eye.
The media business is a lot more humble these days. Just take a look at their stock prices
and all the billions of dollars of write-downs in recent months. This is not to say many won't step in some fresh dung down the road.
The promise of modern-day media synergy is at a
lower volume level these days: Amazon's Kindle won't release sales figures; NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker won't go into detail about the financial situation of Hulu.
In this vein, the
upcoming TV upfront ad market is poised to promise somewhat less. Some cross-advertising selling deals will make appearances, but most current efforts are more modest, more targeted in scale.
How many big media agency-TV network announcements on the order of OMD/ Disney-ABC $1 billion pact of a few years ago are you seeing these days?
AOL-Time Warner taught us media and
entertainment is a valuable part of consumer lives -- but glaringly, not all of it.