AOL’s ad business actually grew in the last quarter, reports Peter Kafka, and it’s about time for AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong. Display ads were up four percent for the first quarter — the first time that number has moved up since 2007, and domestic display results grew 11 percent.
But the news for AOL isn’t great all around:
Overall ad revenue was down 11 percent, because AOL’s international and search ads are still shrinking. And AOL’s display numbers still lag the rest of the Web industry… AOL overall revenue dropped 17 percent, and net income dropped 86 percent.
So why the positive spin? The 4 percent display ad growth, which might otherwise seem miniscule, was its first growth since 2007, and surprised much of Wall Street. As Kafka puts it bluntly, “any turnaround is a turnaround for Armstrong.”
That’s how you get positive press from an otherwise negative news: low expectations.