Tim Armstrong's Grades For Agencies: A- For Talking The Talk; B- For Execution

Adland has some work to do before AOL CEO Tim Armstrong considers it truly fit for the current and ever-changing media landscape.

In a Tuesday session at the 4As Transformation conference, Armstrong was asked by Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg to grade agencies in terms of their readiness to work with AOL across its array of current platforms.

Armstrong replied that Adland is talking a good game and gets an A- for that. For execution, however, he said that the average agency grade was a B-. Clients clearly want better, he said.

From a technology standpoint, said Armstrong, agencies must be up to date with a capability to “plug in” to AOL’s platforms on several levels, including sales, products, content and engineering. And there must be more sharing of two-way data. “Some agencies are and some aren’t,” he said.



Laggards, Armstrong added, are probably those shops that say, among other things, “everything has to run off my technology on the trading side.”

And while clients might not want to work with a “B-” agency, they often don’t have the headcount to work directly with AOL. Thus, they end up with parts of their activation strategies “falling through the gap.”

On the creative side, Armstrong recalled how over the past weekend he saw a number of Buick ads during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In his view, the ads were effective and changed his view of Buick for the better. But with the message received, he added, the carmaker is “wasting money” by showing the same ads repeatedly throughout the tournament.

The takeaway, he said, is that in the future, brands and agencies will need to make exponentially more and different ads that make different points in order to maximize spending ROI.

AOL has invested heavily in programmatic buying, and Armstrong says he believes all TV networks will eventually be in the programmatic business to some degree. There will be some thinning of the network ranks, he added. Those that refuse to engage in programmatic buying probably won't survive.
4 comments about "Tim Armstrong's Grades For Agencies: A- For Talking The Talk; B- For Execution".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Michael Hubbard from Media Two Interactive, March 25, 2015 at 8:13 a.m.

    I think there's more context to this article than I'm reading. Granted, AOL is light-years ahead of where they were 5 years ago, but what's interesting to me is although I know they're extremely profitable - I don't understand what AOL really is anymore. They fell off on "owning the internet" like they did in the dial up days - and they don't own search, or content anymore... So is AOL purely a platform/programmatic play now? What is truly their sales pitch to why clients would want to work directly: "And while clients might not want to work with a “B-” agency, they often don’t have the headcount to work directly with AOL." Again - I think there's more to this article than I'm reading - but just wondering out loud.

  2. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, March 25, 2015 at 8:47 a.m.

    @ Michael -- this is Just Tim being Tim. I just surfed through AOL for kicks and got hit with a Verizon Ad five times in a row. Tim sells like no one else but when you dig deeper into what he says, you kind of have to shake your head.

  3. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, March 25, 2015 at 9:03 a.m.

    Ouch!...I would have said 15 years ago...

  4. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER, March 25, 2015 at 9:21 a.m.

    BS might be the best letter grade they can aim for.

Next story loading loading..