Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google, T-Mobile, Give AOL a Hand and a Big Check

Apple (AAPL), Research In Motion (RIMM) and Google (GOOG) are duking it out for consumers’ smartphone dollars this fall. But here’s an early winner: Time Warner’s (TWX) AOL, which has just landed a giant contract to push Google’s G1 phone for the next two days.

Wireless carrier T-Mobile, which is selling the phone in the U.S., is launching a big push on AOL’s Platform A ad network today. It has agreed to buy a billion impressions today and tomorrow, reports AdAge.

Reporter Michael Learmonth talks to industry sources who think the buy could cost T-Mobile around $1.5 million, which would work out to a cost per thousand of $1.50. Ad folks I talk to think that number sounds high, and guesstimate that the CPM will be closer to the $1 to $1.10 range.

But no matter what the number is, the campaign will be a win for AOL. Anything approaching $1 million over two days will be well-received at the company, which saw ad revenues drop six percent in the last quarter.

And the fact that AOL can offer an advertiser a billion impressions in two days also points out how the ad network business is supposed to work: Gather lots of Web sites and offer their combined inventory to advertisers, who can buy a lot of eyeballs at a discount. Now AOL just needs a lot more of these, fast.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work