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I hope you don’t work in AOL’s Advertising Sales Department because you’re screwed!

AOL has recent­ly announced that it would be lay­ing off a min­i­mum of 150 “hard­work­ing” folk on their adver­tis­ing sales team. Why do you ask are they dump­ing all these peo­ple? You guessed it, they are being replaced with com­put­ers that will use pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing. No more human sales peo­ple. They are also squeez­ing their sites TUAW and Joys­tiq into Engad­get, both of which became acqui­si­tions in 2005 of Weblogs which had oper­at­ed almost 90 blogs.

AOL claims there is noth­ing to wor­ry about as far as their adver­tis­ing clients are con­cerned, the move towards automa­tion was to improve their work­ing rela­tion­ships. Well the proof is in the pud­ding, we’ll find out soon enough if this turns out to be a cat­a­stro­phe. Any­one with half a brain has become cog­nizant of the fact that tech­nol­o­gy and media have basi­cal­ly become inter­twined. Con­sumers have become more dynam­ic in their inter­ests and how they respond to things.

In a memo from AOL post­ed on Busi­ness Insid­er, Bob Lord, pres­i­dent of AOL states “We’ve made it our mis­sion to sim­pli­fy the inter­net for con­sumers and cre­ators with cul­ture and code… We are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing brands and agen­cies with best in class con­tent and pro­gram­mat­ic solu­tions across all plat­forms, increas­ing our invest­ments and exper­tise in both areas and estab­lish­ing a more uni­fied go to mar­ket approach”.

So there you have it, replaced with machines, he con­tin­ues “I real­ize that this change may mean a shift in the core AOL team on your busi­ness and that may ini­tial­ly feel uncom­fort­able; how­ev­er, please know that your needs are at the heart of this trans­for­ma­tion”. Bzzzt, beep, beep, boop, do you hear the robots tak­ing over the offices of AOL, or is it just me? You have to real­ize right now this is just 3% of their staff. If AOL gets a taste of any increase in gains, you can bet there will be more and more depart­ments hav­ing tum­ble­weed rolling through them.

AOL said rev­enues from last quar­ter from pro­gram­mat­ic has risen by 37% in their non-search ad sales, in 2013 third quar­ter it was only %12. Auto­mat­ed ad sell­ing is cheap­er and they’ll do any­thing to grow those prof­its. Dur­ing AOL’s third quar­ter they made $454.5 mil­lion from com­bined adver­tis­ing rev­enues amongst all their prop­er­ties. This is close to 75% of their total quar­ter­ly revenue.

So in clos­ing, no mys­tery that the lay­offs will con­tin­ue not just at AOL, but in vir­tu­al­ly every media com­pa­ny across the dig­i­tal spec­trum because machines can dri­ve costs down and do work non-stop. You should actu­al­ly be rejoic­ing because these machines are sup­posed to be mak­ing life on Earth bet­ter, unfor­tu­nate­ly no one has solved the “you need mon­ey to sur­vive” prob­lem. Maybe AOL is work­ing on a solu­tion to this?

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