Still, AOL executives conceded that they could have done a better job with search and domestic display ads. AOL’s display ad gains of 14 percent in the quarter were less than the 24.5 percent expected growth for the overall industry this year, according to eMarketer.
Last month, Mr. Armstrong also replaced his top ad executive.
AOL’s decline in value is so great that analysts point out that the company may be worth more now broken into pieces and sold. The Internet access business, in particular, would be good to unload, they say.
Other ideas include closing Patch, AOL’s local news initiative that has reporters in 850 towns. Eliminating the money-losing service would free $160 million and lift AOL into profitability.
Mr. Armstrong responded to such suggestions by saying that the long-term benefits of his strategy outweighed any short-term gains promoted by Wall Street analysts. High-quality content, he said, is the Internet’s future growth engine.
Meanwhile, AOL struggles to attract more visitors because of an eroding base of dial-up subscribers. The number of subscribers fell 21 percent in the last quarter to 3.4 million, for example.
Maintaining existing traffic numbers to its sites should therefore be considered a victory, Mr. Armstrong said. In July, all of AOL’s sites attracted 105 million unique visitors, 2 percent fewer than in the same month last year, according to comScore.
In contrast to the overall flat growth, traffic in The Huffington Post sites has grown around 12 percent since it was acquired, to nearly 35 million. But some of that gain is from shifting traffic from established AOL sites that were closed.
Ms. Huffington, who has a multiyear contract, said that she was as encouraged as ever by AOL, and that there remained more work ahead to integrate The Huffington Post with the rest of the company’s sites.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Ms. Huffington said. “I’m having a great time.”