2011 Media Player Shortlist: AOL Canada

The 10 companies shortlisted for Media Player of the Year in Marketing’s Nov. 14 issue were at the top of their game in 2011. We’ll be featuring each one online as a lead-up to our January 2012 issue, where you’ll find out which media company will reign supreme. AOL Canada AOL Canada spent the last […]


The 10 companies shortlisted for Media Player of the Year in Marketing’s Nov. 14 issue were at the top of their game in 2011. We’ll be featuring each one online as a lead-up to our January 2012 issue, where you’ll find out which media company will reign supreme.

AOL Canada

AOL Canada spent the last year investing in original content and products for consumers and advertisers—and it’s all starting to pay off

Despite what Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, the whole isn’t always greater than the sum of its parts. Take AOL, for example.

Despite its well-known struggles and skeptics on Wall Street, the company’s Canadian division has managed to rise above the speculation and financial woes facing its parent company in the U.S.

The media company says it expects revenue growth of 26% for 2011, and over the last year has more than doubled in size to 53 staff. Key senior-level hires include Graham Moysey (general manager), Leanne Gibson (director of ad products and operations) and Vivian Ip (director of agency sales and operations).

The additional manpower has allowed AOL Canada “to get in front of media agencies and explain the value proposition” of placing ads within its network, says Laura Pearce, director of marketing at AOL Canada.

The company’s online properties (including Engadget, PopEater.com, MovieFone.ca and Cambio.com) reach just under 10 million monthly uniques and are managed out of the company’s downtown Toronto office.

“The [parent] company is very happy with what we’ve done in Canada and often they’ll highlight in their regular earning reports that international is a shining star of how AOL is evolving,” says Pearce, pointing to the May 2011 launch of Huffington Post Canada—the first international incarnation of the online news site—as proof the Canadian operation is thriving.

In February 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for a reported US$315 million and three months later launched what co-founder Arianna Huffington called a “turbo-charged, Canada-centric” version of the site. On its first day, it featured blog posts written by environmental activist David Suzuki, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and actress Meg Tilly, and continues to offer a broad range of Canada-specific content, including news, business, politics and living.

So far, HuffPost Canada has reached double-digit growth since its May launch, and sees more than 1.8 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore data. To keep in line with its expansion strategy, AOL Canada announced that a French-language edition of the site—called Le Huffington Post Québec—will go live early next year. Content on Le Huffington Post Québec will be overseen by a Montreal-based editorial team that Brad Cressman, head of content for AOL Canada, and managing editor Kenny Yum are currently putting in place.

AOL Canada has made “major efforts to stay fresh this year with the addition of The Huffington Post and its new French equivalent,” says Karel Wegert, director, digital solutions at Media Experts. “Their focus is on the delivery of quality content that is relevant to a Canadian audience—one which is very much accustomed to receiving re-purposed American content—is a welcome change.”

Do you think AOL Canada has “risen above” its U.S. parent’s woes? Post your thoughts in our comment section.

There’s more! Check out the Nov. 14 issue of Marketing for the full profile, and subscribe to find out who will be named the Media Player of the Year for 2011.

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