You see, AOL’s numbers had been “artificially pumped up” by “bad distribution deals,” AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told analysts at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. Now that the company is unwinding those deals, “flat is actually up for us.” Armstrong says that he has three main priorities: increase AOL’s unique visitors, boost display advertising, and find ways to generate cash from the company’s growing Patch local news service. Armstrong plans to invest in Patch and the Huffington Post, which he says both will benefit from political advertising in 2012. “Everyone reads the Huffington Post in D.C.,” he says. Investors are skeptical about AOL’s prospects especially following the departure of several top executives; its shares are down nearly 39% in 2011. Armstrong says that “you may not like the strategy” AOL has. “But we have a strategy.”
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