AOL posts

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.

Jun 13th 2016

Open relationships, creative connections

Forget traditional relationships. Today's consumers expect to keep things open. They want to explore beyond one screen, one format, or one-size-fits-all messaging. And they're challenging us all to do better and to be more inventive.

Cannes, by its nature, thrives on openness: it's a meeting of minds, a space to share ideas. This year, we're breaking down the boundaries and opening the industry to a new way of doing things. If you're joining us in France, check out our keynote on Monday with Jimmy Maymann, President of AOL Content and Consumer Brands, and on Wednesday spark your creativity with David Shing, AOL's Digital Prophet, on the main stage.

In the meantime, we're making it easy to get started on your open relationship by sharing the creative best practices that you can use today. Dive into our multi-part series to open up your perspective and give consumers what they want.

Let's Get Creative

May 18th 2016

A Look Into Open Source @ AOL

AOL is very active in the open source community across our enterprise-grade ad stack, our brand sites and content management tools (supporting brands like The Huffington Post), and our video services and membership business.

This year at OSCON we have a great session with AOLer John McClean covering a number of recent projects.

Think Java is dying? It's still a workhorse platform and while we are all over some of the newest languages (I'll talk about that later as it relates to our Scala efforts in video), we continue to leverage the ubiquity and portability of Java in a number of areas. John will walk in detail through a new microservices plugin system for Spring and a useful Java 8 library, among other projects.

An area John will touch on but not go deep is IT Security. We are big believers in open source in the security space and expect all new hires to be up on the latest tools. For example, we look for knowledge of ZAP or Metasploit as evidence that an appsec candidate is a "real" hands-on security professional. We are not looking for security folks who just push buttons on expensive enterprise tools. Deep open source knowledge is part of our interview process. By the way ZAP is written in Java!

One of our biggest open source contributions in the security area is Moloch - a scalable packet capture tool. It enables storing and indexing all of your network traffic for fast access and has been a bedrock tool for us, and many others via Github.

Returning to Scala, our go90 video team and the Verizon IPTV team have done extensive work using Scala. Several members of those teams are Scala core language and library contributors and conference speakers. Projects like SacalZ and Lift have significant contributions from the team. AOL and Verizon are building mobile video and the next generation of IPTV platforms on a Scala base, betting on its flexibility and performance. Some of the core libraries are open sourced.

Here's the description for John's talk. If you're at OSCON, please come and check it out:

AOL's return to open source: An overview of Java 8 library cyclops-react
Wednesday, 05/18/2016
Meeting Room 14

AOLer John McClean will speak about open source @AOL with an overview of Java 8 library cyclops-react. He will demonstrate cyclops-react and how it can integrate with other new technologies in the Java 8 eco-system such as Pivotal Reactor, Functional Java and Javaslang.

John will also reference a number of other projects in his talk, including Moloch, cyclops, Microserver, and Adapt Strap.

May 15th 2016

Time to Make a Difference with Australian Non-profit Startups

Making a difference is in our DNA. Nearly every day, we unleash initiatives focused on making the world a better place.

As part of our commitment to giving back, we're proud to announce the launch of our new Australian startup support program #DeskAid. We want to use our talents to make a real difference by helping those who can make the world a better place.

#DeskAid is specifically designed to deliver exactly what early stage non-profit companies in Australia need: access to a community of experienced and well-connected professionals, opportunities to brainstorm and plan with a variety of mentors; and a fun and dynamic office space in Sydney with plenty of perks.

If you want to work in one of the most inspiring office spaces in Sydney, we're giving up to three enthusiastic entrepreneurs in the non-profit sector the opportunity to work alongside our team for six months or more.

There are plenty of other perks, including:

  • Three dedicated desks in AOL's Sydney CBD office with water views.
  • Brainpower from 25 ad tech experts – each will provide one hour a month in the form of ad support, website troubleshooting, insights into what other brands are doing with their marketing or leveraging partnerships to assist.
  • High speed wi-fi and printing supplies.
  • Meeting rooms.
  • Bi-weekly boot camp exercise program run by a team member.
  • Showers and change rooms.
  • Use of ping pong table.
  • Access to bicycles for inner city commuting.
  • Access to a weekly Pilates teacher.

If you're interested, we'd love to hear from you before midnight on 15 July 2016. Learn how to apply.

#DeskAid – a program by Citizen AOL

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