Not sure what issues you experienced with AWB in 2011, but it works well in 2014 (and in 2015 as well). My AWB sites earn money, and if you want the same, you should focus your AWB sites on different niches. Don't focus on specific niches only. For example, I found that some of my sites rank pretty well even in competitive niches. The point is that you shouldn't build only sites that use low competition keywords because if you do so, you will loose an opportunity to get some high-paying clicks/conversions.
I do NOT say that each single site will get good rankings, but the more different niches you have, the better. I just don't know the exact reason why some AWB sites rank well in competitive niches while some other AWB sites have lower rankings even with "cheap" niches. Can someone share his thoughts?