Jun 22nd 2016

AOL Designs Billboard in Times Square in Honor of Pride

AOL is proud to stand boldly with Krever and Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), smack dab in the middle of Times Square, New York to be exact. Hetrick-Martin Institute, a nonprofit providing direct services and advocacy for LGBTQ youth, encourages the community to imagine a world where all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, can achieve their full potential. American Eagle donated one minute of every hour of their Times Square billboard to HMI, but without robust design resources, HMI didn't know how to make the most of this incredible opportunity.

AOL has had a long-standing relationship with HMI -- working with them for over 5 years in various capacities from Monster Help Day to volunteering services for their annual galas. AOL's Inclusion & Diversity Council jumped on the opportunity to help and partnered with internal design resources to build the concept, images and video content, to bring the billboard to life. When asked about why she is so personally passionate about HMI, AOL Inclusion & Diversity Council member Sivan Sabach said, "It's the school that I wish was around when I was a teen. It's the most heartwarming educational place I've ever been."

The billboard, part of a month-long campaign throughout Pride called "Help Me Imagine," aims to raise awareness of the struggles facing LGBTQ youth across the country. The campaign visuals express statements of hope from HMI youth and celebrity allies including actors Alan Cumming and Cheyenne Jackson, and recording artist duo Tegan and Sara.

For the month of June HMI corporate partners, Roddick and Yabu Pushelberg, match every dollar donate to HMI. To learn more or donate go to www.helpmeimagine.org. You can also support HMI by bidding on one-of-a-kind artwork at https://paddle8.com/auction/hmi/ till June 24th.

Jun 16th 2016

Let Girls Build

#BUILTBYGIRLS and Citizen AOL are proud to announce a special partnership with Let Girls Learn, an initiative launched by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama aimed at helping girls around the world access education and empower them to reach their full potential.

Together, Let Girls Learn, Citizen AOL & #BUILTBYGIRLS created Let Girls Build, a tech-based Challenge asking young women in the U.S. to use the power of technology to create thoughtful and relevant solutions to advance girls' education around the world.

Let Girls Build is a custom track of the #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge, which gives girls with a background in entrepreneurship and venture capital the power to fund tech projects built by other girls. The Let Girls Build track calls for young women all over the country to leverage technology to ideate creative solutions addressing the problems facing the #62million girls across the globe who are not in school.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced the initiative at The United State of Women Summit earlier this week. The Summit gathered attendees to celebrate all that women and girls have achieved, and empowered individuals and organizations to take action moving forward. The First Lady, Oprah Winfrey and other featured speakers educated, inspired and reminded attendees that there's a lot that has been done by and for women and girls, but there's still plenty more to do.

Challenge submissions open in July; for more information on how to enter, visit http://www.builtbygirls.com/let-girls-build.

Jun 15th 2016

Monster Help Day: Our Biggest & Most Impactful Yet

Monster Help Day is AOL's company-wide day of service when AOLers around the globe have the opportunity to give back to their communities. This year's Monster Help Day was our biggest and best yet, with 150 volunteer projects supporting 120 different nonprofits and employees donating 13,420 hours of service. Employees's efforts directly impacted 15,000 women, girls and underserved youth, world-wide.

Nearly 4,000 employees in 47 cities participated in projects that included addressing the Migrant Crisis in Europe and helping organizations that create and perform interactive theater for children in hospitals and care facilities. AOLers participated in activities that allowed them to unleash their talents and do something meaningful.

To see pictures and learn more about the work AOL employees did this Monster Help Day, search the hashtag #AOLGivesBack on Twitter.

Jun 15th 2016

Autoblog Presents UPSHIFT 2016

At Autoblog we obsessively cover the auto industry and we can see that the next 20 years will be the most transformational, exciting time in the history of transportation. That's why we're putting on Autoblog UPSHIFT 2016, a two-day conference that will explore all aspects of the future of transportation and mobility.

UPSHIFT will take place at the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, Michigan from October 5-7, 2016. Yes, Detroit, the ancestral home of the American auto industry and Autoblog's home town. The ongoing revitalization of the Motor City exemplifies the attitude of UPSHIFT: rapid evolution that's building on a proud history. Autoblog is taking the conversation beyond automobiles into all-things influencing mobility. From autonomous driving and multi-modal transit to infrastructure planning and changing population trends, UPSHIFT will cover everything that has to do with how we'll get from one place to another in the next 20 years and beyond.

Our goal with UPSHIFT is to challenge preconceived notions of the auto industry and the broader transportation landscape. We're bringing together the brightest innovators, executives, analysts, and creative minds the in the world who have a passion for transportation in all its facets. We will push boundaries and promote new ideas. Those ideas will come both from beyond the auto industry and within - even traditional companies can have revolutionary visions. And if you think the coming decades spell the end of driving, don't worry, we will definitely explore what the future holds for people who love to get behind the wheel.

UPSHIFT will boast a full schedule of keynotes, expert panels, and demonstrations in an ideally industrial setting in the heart of Detroit. A detailed schedule, as well as the list of speakers, will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets will also go on sale soon for those few looking to attend and if you can't make it to UPSHIFT, we'll have comprehensive coverage on Autoblog, including live video.

Whether in person or online, we hope you'll join us this October. Checkout Autoblog on Twitter for more updates on UPSHIFT.

Jun 13th 2016

Dear Industry: Here's Why You Need to Be in an Open Relationship

Hello friends,

Another celebration of the creative carnival that is Cannes Lions is about to come and go. Beyond the new categories at the awards, at the center of this circus is the barrage of ideas from brands all aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of people to buy more, consume more, be more. What's changed since last year? You need to be in an open relationship.

That's right. Today, people want to keep things open. They expect to explore beyond one screen, one format, or one-size-fits-all messaging. They crave experiences they can engage with on their terms. Content tailored to what they're into. They want it exactly when, where and how they like it. And they're challenging you—brands, agencies, publishers and developers—to walk the talk and get inventive.

So how do we get there? By breaking up with the old way of doing things and taking the necessary leap to embrace today's progressive consumer. That means no more tone-deaf creative experiences that alienate the consumer (unless, of course, you're excited by the prospect of foregoing nearly $22B in wasted global revenue thanks to ad blocking.1 Yeah, didn't think so.) Here's how it's done.

Get to know your consumer better than you know yourself.
54% of consumers "expect brands to really know and understand them as people."2 There's a lot of chatter about consumer-centricity through data, but it's about time we separate what's real from what's snake oil. With nearly 70% of the world going mobile by 2016, a mix of creative thinking and true 1:1 data is imperative to reach audiences at the "person-level" no matter how they're consuming media.3 And when I say 1:1, I mean validated data about who someone really is, not just who they declare themselves to be.

Content is everywhere, all the time, causing consumers to raise the bar.
61% of consumers don't care if content is sponsored by a brand...as long as it's good.4 But what makes content good to them? To find out, you need to relinquish control and open up your creative process to let the consumer become a branded content muse. Demographic and behavioral data are table stakes at this point. Harnessing insights that unearth consumers' mindsets and motivations for consumption should be the new standard for content development.

The next generation of video technology is flourishing.
Consumers are embracing the massive rise of live, virtual reality and 360 video; 64% of them believe that viewing VR will be just as common as watching video on mobile devices today.5 Video today is authentic, real-time, unfiltered and is becoming democratized in a way that uniquely piques innate human interest like no other medium. Considering that 80% of all global consumer traffic will be from video by 2019, opportunity is ripe to make the most of this quickly evolving form factor.6 Let's not screw this one up.

So, let's just get on with it. Out with the old, in with the new. If you want to start (or keep) winning those creative accolades, you have to embrace these trends and open up your relationship with consumers in a radical way. Or, stay in your comfort zone and taint the ecosystem with antiquated norms that push consumers to some other brand. While change is never easy, we'll help you along by sharing insights and innovations to break down the boundaries, open your approach and give consumers what they want.



1. Adobe, The 2015 Ad Blocking Report, the Cost of Ad Blocking, 201.
2. Microsoft Advertising, U.S. Consumer Data Value Exchange, June 2015.
3. GSMA, The Mobile Economy, 2015.
4. AOL, Alchemy of Connection, 2015.
5. AOL, Omnibus, February 2016.
6. Cisco, Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020.

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