Miller Confirmed as AOL Chief; Will Focus on Promos, Not Ads

08 August 2002

As widely expected [WAMN: 06-Aug-02], Jonathan Miller (45) has been confirmed as the new chief executive of ailing America Online – the internet division of AOL Time Warner.

Miller hails from USA Interactive whose assets include travel agency Expedia, Home Shopping Network and Ticketmaster, where he won a glowing reputation for dynamic but consensual management He replaces former ceo Robert Pittman who walked AOL’s corporate plank two weeks ago at the point of a sharply-honed payoff.

As the new kid on the block, Miller will not have to contend with the investigation of AOL’s accounting practices by the SEC and Department of Justice. He does, however, face dwindling ad revenues and a sharp deceleration in subscriber growth.

Miller outlined his stance to the former: “Advertising really needs to be thought of as sponsorships and promotional base models, not so-called banner ads,” he said. Examples of such models are exclusively-sponsored concerts and like events.

As to the ebb in new subscribers, he will doubtless be guided by the view of the man who hired him, Don Logan, AOL TW’s new chief operating officer. Logan’s credo is that Wall Street has become fixated on the issue of subscriber growth.

“When you reach a certain level, growth is not a proper measurement. You should be looking for profitability from subscribers,” Logan opines. The road to this transcendental state, he believes, is the development of premium online services such as broadband.

Miller agrees, while stressing the need for product excellence: “The narrowband (dial-up) business is a very big, profitable business – and it’s not going anywhere. The migration to broadband will happen over time. If we can create ... an absolutely compelling product, then we'll get paid whether in dial-up or broadband.”

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff