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Sep 19th 2013

The Wanamaker Place Project

John Wanamaker was a force to be reckoned with. He was a pious man of drive and purpose, devout about Christianity and the customer experience. He was intuitive about where the market was going. He was the first to put electricity in stores, the first to install phones and radios, the first to rise above the clamor of a bartering bazaar and establish price tags and a system of stated value and cost. He knew the value of a dollar and was wise to the inherent and still persistent questions around marketing and advertising - which part works?

Today, AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway, an iconic structure stretching across 9th Street, from 4th Avenue to Broadway, above the original Wanamaker Department store, one of the greatest brands in the history of retail. It is in this spirit that our portfolio of premium ads, The Wanamaker Place Project, recognizes the legacy of John Wanamaker and his ability to provide real value to his customers while dazzling them with an exceptional experience.

The Wanamaker Place Project is our ad innovation platform and architecture, which encompasses our portfolio of ad products spanning rich media, native ads, mobile and multi-screen units. It is a comprehensive way of organizing and bringing our rich media and ad format innovation to market.

Like fashion and retail, advertising is about what's hot and what works. It's about being ahead of trends. It's about merchandising and branding as well as price and inventory. It's a global business built on pace, positioning and product. AOL's heritage, similar to John Wanamaker, is about the pursuit of innovation in the name of great customer experiences.

Our intention to beautify the Web via content and advertising began three years ago with the launch of Project Devil. It was then that we re-imagined what the web could look like. Today, we are launching a new set of premium ad products designed to further the potential, the impact, the nature and the beauty of advertising. They include:
  • Loft – This AOL original unit anchors itself to the top of the page as the user scrolls down, giving brands a unique and persistent presence. Built in HTML5 to create a uniform experience across desktop and tablet, the banner spawns out of traditional banner and anchors itself to the top of the page as the user scrolls down the page, creating an unobtrusive encouragement for users to interact with brand content. Users can expand the anchored banner to reveal rich functionality like mapping, videos and coupon downloads while staying on the page content.
  • Reactive Wallpaper – An exclusive offering that gives advertisers the ability to host subsequent, in-view brand messaging in the rails as a user scrolls down the page. Advertisers can also leverage additional assets and showcase video in a lightbox – so the user can watch without leaving the page.
  • Multi Screen/HTML5Pictela's new multi-screen applications travel seamlessly across desktop, tablet and mobile – essential to reaching a growing multi-screen audience.
  • Native – Through a guided process that relies heavily on analytics and experience, our team of editors and designers helps brands to craft seamless content that resonates with consumers, increases brand visibility and drives the social conversation.
  • IAB Mobile Rising Stars – AOL is one of the first mobile publishers to offer this variety of IAB rising star and innovative mobile formats - including Filmstrip, Pull, Adhesion and Full Page Flex plus an innovation of our own, Mobile Footnote – at scale across AOL's Mobile Web properties

The Wanamaker Place Project is a nod to the past with an eye on the fast-moving present and a belief in the future of premium and performance driving experiences made possible through content and advertising.

Aug 19th 2013

AOL On partners with Carambola for exclusive new ad format to online video

It's no secret that at AOL, we take our original programming very seriously. Over the past few years, we've made a significant investment in video because of the incredible opportunity we see to entertain and inform viewers and to provide new opportunities for advertisers. Today we're announcing a partnership that enables us to deliver on both of those promises.

Some of your favorite AOL On Originals feature new native ad content like polls, trivia, e-commerce offers and other information within the video are powered by Carambola. They've created the world's first automated video enrichment platform that is exclusively available through AOL. Their algorithms analyze each AOL On video and create a unique and interactive layer related to the video content. The result is a powerful tool for advertisers that gives them additional user-initiated exposure, plus the ability to reach consumers in a highly relevant, contextual way.

We think the numbers coming out of our pilot program speak for themselves: one in ten viewers clicked to learn more about the video's content and they spent an average of 25 seconds with the unit. More than 60% of them chose to continue on to answer quizzes, read trivia, find outlets to purchase featured items, and otherwise explore the main menu. Furthermore, each unit is customized to fit AOL On channels and enriches video content without actually feeling like an advertisement.

For viewers, this means the ability to instantly and seamlessly find more information about the content on their screens without having to search for it on the web. For example, on "Now Eat This! Italy" with Rocco DiSpirito users can get inside the video by clicking on the small "AOL On" icon on the top of the screen to lead to a variety of information - from fun facts about Rocco, to recipes he is preparing, to where to buy his latest cookbook - and they can even choose to take part in quizzes and surveys.

We're committed to finding the most innovative new features in digital advertising today, and we're proud to bring Carambola into the fold. You can check it out in action here.

Jul 24th 2013

It's Time for Programmatic to Explode Creativity



Coming on the heels of our successful Digital Content NewFront in late April, we announced today that we are holding the first ever Programmatic Upfront event on Sept. 23 -- the first day of Advertising Week 2013 -- for more than 150 clients, media, analysts and investors. The theme of the AOL Networks Programmatic Upfront is "Programmatic Explodes Creativity." We will celebrate the creativity headed our way as technology, data and automation free up marketers and agencies to do wildly imaginative things.

Since the 1970s, TV has been the primary beneficiary of upfront buying. In the last two years, digital has also held upfronts, with a heavy emphasis on video inventory. But as chief marketing officers and other brand stewards come to terms with the reality that proving ad spend ROI is "the new black", there is every reason to believe advertisers will soon be willing to pre-allocate media budgets against large scale display inventory.

The online advertising industry has created a fear and chaos-based environment filled with hundreds of small companies each pitching highly technical necessities to drive digital spend and achieve ROI. At AOL, we believe this must change. CMO's can't embrace digital much further without a simpler connection between people and platforms. They can't shift their budgets from TV until we - as an industry - demonstrate the true power of digital to unlock creativity.

We believe this is the first of what will become an annual industry event -- just like the Digital NewFronts. At AOL, we want to lead this new revolution and help define a new way of buying in the programmatic space.

Recent stats from eMarketer show just how big this business is and will be in the coming years. eMarketer estimates U.S. advertisers will spend more than $3.36 billion on real-time bidding this year, up from just under $2 billion in 2012 and less than $1 billion in 2011. eMarketer expects double-digit increases in spending each year through 2017, when real-time bidding will account for more than $8.49 billion in digital ad spending-or 29% of all digital display spending.*

Check out the event details below.

AOL Networks Programmatic Upfront
Date: September 23, 2013
Location: Skylight West, 500 West 36th Street (@ 10th Avenue)
Time: 5:00-7:00PM ET
Invitation only event

The event will feature marketers and agency executives who will showcase the business rationale that illustrates why upfront programmatic commitments are critical to their business strategy. Speakers will talk about the creative revolution that is made possible by automation.

Brand, agency and industry participants in the AOL Networks Programmatic Upfront will be announced at a later date.

*eMarketer Digital Intelligence Report (April 4, 2013): RTB Ad Spend Continues Robust Growth

Jul 19th 2013

Feeding the Curiosity Monster

One of AOL's core values is embracing change and we're encouraged to have "a DNA of curiosity," to think big and take chances. It's a great topic of conversation, and as one of AOL's cultural ambassadors I love learning how others keep their curiosity monster well-fed. Last week I attended AOL Advertising's new speaker series, Masters of Advertising, where David Shing, a thought leader and member of senior management presented his telescopic view of creativity and how brands can differentiate themselves in the bustling digital marketplace. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Attention is the new currency. David mentioned that most users download over 40 apps to their smartphone or tablet and actively use a core set of about five. It is a brand marketer's challenge to retool how they approach securing that mindshare in order to successfully gain market share.
  • Exercise your right brain every day. The daily grind of the work week is inherently tethered to our left brain guru. I don't know about you, but I find myself keeping more tabs on my to do lists and project plans than stretching my right brain beyond its comfort zone. David encouraged the audience to start channeling their individual creativity by stepping away from the spreadsheets and exercising the other parts of the brain.
  • Ideas are everywhere. There is a wealth of content available not only for consumption, but also for inspiration. "Contagious videos" are a growing portion of that content, they tell the brand story from a human experience. David shared the following thought-provoking examples during his presentation: Driving Dogs, Metro Train PSA, Fallen Angels (UK).

For more on David Shing's take on creativity in the digital space, click here.

Learn more about AOL and how you can embrace your DNA of curiosity by visiting the AOL Careers site for a list of exciting opportunities. Also keep up-to-date on all things AOL Advertising by following them on Twitter.

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