Sep 15th 2015

AOL-Cornell Tech Connected Experiences (Cx) Lab Launches

We held our official kickoff for the AOL - Cornell Tech Connected Experiences (ConnX) laboratory last week in New York City. Here is the official site:

The lab is a four year collaboration between AOL and Cornell Tech to explore the opportunities to use technology in new ways, to enable immersive recommendations and deep content consumption experiences, especially on mobile devices, to explore new interfaces and modalities as it relates to content, community, and advertising (virtual reality, wearable devices, and other emerging platforms), and to use technology to help better connect communities and families in close-knit settings.

We have a number of AOL technology and product leaders who have committed to making the lab a success - to hosting and collaborating with professors and students, working together on prototypes and testing hypotheses, and to stimulating our own thinking about the future of technology in our society.

Aug 28th 2015

AOL Charitable Foundation Makes a Difference in Rwanda: WiSci STEAM Camp 2015

As part of the AOL Charitable Foundation's mission to increase access and opportunity for girls around the world, we're thrilled to have been a founding partner of the recent Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM Camp in Rwanda.

From across Africa and the U.S., 120 talented girls traveled to Rwanda to participate in this three-week program at the Gashora Girls Academy where they had the opportunity to learn valuable skills in science, technology, engineering, art and design and math (STEAM) fields, which enjoying a rich cross-cultural experience.

This first-of-its-kind program was organized by the U.S. Department of State, Microsoft 4Afrika, Intel, AOL Charitable Foundation, the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up campaign, and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, with support from Meridian International Center, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the African Leadership Academy, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

The WiSci Camp is part of the Let Girls Learn initiative promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama to ensure adolescent girls get the education to build brighter futures and stronger communities. Read the press release.

As a founding partner, the AOL Charitable Foundation provided an initial grant to the UN Foundation to support the program and worked with AOL Inc. to provide leadership development, arts and cross-cultural learning. AOL enhanced the program curriculum with digital marketing expertise during week 3 of the program- it is in this last week that AOL sent three employees (myself, Michele Morelli, and John Johnston) to Rwanda to meet these talented girls and help bring the program to life!

Covering digital marketing and product pitching, our curriculum enabled campers to learn about the importance of branding and developing a successful product for their specific audience. These sessions were instrumental as the campers were responsible for not only creating a product that would benefit their local community back home, but they had to pitch their idea to a panel of judges on the last day of camp- judges based this competition on innovation, social impact, entrepreneurship, technical rigor and presentation.

Camp closed with a beautiful graduation ceremony that was attended by numerous dignitaries and was officiated by the First Lady of Rwanda, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame. As part of her speech, Mrs. Kagame urged the girls to use technology and to discover the tools needed to face the world's challenges. Click here to hear Mrs. Kagame's full speech.

Though the first WiSci STEAM camp has come to a close, this is just the beginning for the 120 girls eager to be the future leaders in their respective communities. To read more about these incredible girls and their experiences, click here to check out their Huffington Post blogs.

Check out these 2-minute snapshot videos created onsite and currently featured across AOL & The Huffington Post.

Aug 7th 2015

AOL Releases Transparency Report for the First Half of 2015

Over the last several years, AOL has worked with industry peers and lawmakers to advocate for increased transparency, an end to the bulk collection of Internet metadata, and improved oversight and accountability of government surveillance programs. The USA Freedom Act -- which passed both houses of Congress with large bipartisan majorities and was signed into law by President Obama last month -- takes important steps towards all of these goals. We commend the people and organizations who worked on this effort.

As has been our practice, we issue transparency reports reflecting governmental demands for user data that we have received over six-month periods.[1] This report covers demands that we received through the first half of 2015.[2] The first table below includes information on the FISA orders that we received for non-content and content information. The second table provides information on the National Security Letters ("NSLs") that we received for such information. The third table provides information on the legal demands that AOL has received from federal, state, and local authorities in criminal investigations (outside of the national security context).[3] Note that AOL vigorously contests on behalf of our users any demands that we believe are ambiguous or legally defective.

As with our previous transparency reports, the tables below indicate that demands for user data impact less than one hundredth of one percent of AOL accounts. In addition, the number of accounts may not equal the number of individuals impacted, as users may have multiple accounts that are the subject of such demands.

[1] Note that this report relates to AOL only. Verizon, which acquired AOL earlier this summer, has issued a separate transparency report.

[2] The U.S. government imposes a six-month delay for reporting Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA") orders. Accordingly, this report reflects FISA orders only through December 2014.

[3] AOL has not received any demands from foreign authorities.

Jul 23rd 2015

AOL Holds First Future Builder's Day Hosted by Citizen AOL and #BUILTBYGIRLS

I am thrilled to announce AOL's first ever Future Builders Day (#AOLFutureBuilders) in New York City.

As part of AOL's commitment to developing the next generation of leaders, Future Builder's Day is a celebration of the interns and Girls Who Code participants we're mentoring and championing this summer. It's a great example of how AOL lives its mission of unleashing the world's best builders of culture and code.

This summer's Future Builders include college and high school students from #BUILTBYGIRLS, an AOL program which challenges young women to be builders, creators and innovators and claim their place in the tech-enabled economy, Ladders for Leaders (an organization under Mayor de Blasio's Center for Youth Employment Initiative), Harvey Milk High School (a local high school designed for, but not limited to, LGBTQ young people) and Step Up Women's Network (a program that provides mentors to high school girls in the New York City area) as well as students in the Girls Who Code summer immersion program funded by the AOL Charitable Foundation.

As part of this day-long event, AOL interns will receive exposure to different areas of our business, including a behind-the-scenes tour of AOL studios and The Huffington Post news desk, a chat with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and participation in educational workshops. Enrichment class topics range from Marketing 101 to Personal Branding to Digital Media, and are taught by AOLers. The day will also include an exciting "How I Got Here" panel on our BUILD stage, featuring leaders such as Minerva Tantoco (CTO of NYC), Erin Glenn (CEO of Quire), Susan Lyne (President of BBG Ventures at AOL) and Marni Walden (EVP and President of Product Innovation and New Business, Verizon) to share the journeys of their career paths. The City's First Lady Chirlane McCray will also be visiting our offices to meet with interns and take a tour of our headquarters.

Today represents another way in which Citizen AOL reiterates its commitment to making a difference in our community. In December, we launched The AOL Charitable Foundation and made grants to four organizations focused on improving the lives of women, girls and underserved youth. And in the first half of this year, we made a number of grants to organizations we're extremely excited about, including Americans for the Arts to support the Turnaround Arts program which uses arts education as a tool to help turn around America's struggling schools; and the UN Foundation Girl Up to support the Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM Camp at the Gashora Girls Academy in Rwanda. 120 high school girls from across Africa and the United States will have the unique opportunity to learn valuable skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design and Math (STEAM) fields, while enjoying a rich cross-cultural experience.

Additionally in May, we had one of our most successful Monster Help Days with over 3,000+ AOLers participating worldwide. This year marked our 6th annual companywide volunteer day in which employees worldwide took time outside of the office to help their local communities. One of our core values is being in the business of helping people and Monster Help Day is one of the key ways we live out this value by encouraging AOLers across 27 cities worldwide to volunteer in our local communities. This year, over 30% of the volunteer projects for Monster Help Day aligned with the mission of the AOL Charitable Foundation to improve the lives of women, girls and underserved youth through access to technology, education, mentoring and cultivating creativity.

At AOL, we believe in providing young leaders with a path to success, especially in the fields of media and technology. Future Builders Day, as part of the 6 week long summer internship program will help unleash these interns' aspirations, open their eyes to the possibilities of exciting and prosperous careers in these fields, and inspire them to pursue their passions.

Jun 3rd 2015

AOL's Demand Side Platform (DSP) Named a Leader by Independent Research Firm

Today, Forrester Research, Inc. released its new report entitled "The Forrester Wave™: Demand-Side Platforms, Q2 2015" in which it named AOL as a "leader." Forrester noted ONE by AOL's cross-channel, real-time decisioning with powerful multi-touch attribution data, as well as its strong video offering (which spans all devices, including linear TV). Forrester cited that AOL's key acquisitions and Convertro, "have positioned its platform as a strong ad buying solution in an addressable media future."

The report called out the particular benefits of the Convertro acquisition to marketers: namely, that its integration "provides marketers with a powerful attribution engine that feeds real-time ad buying decisioning." The report explained that this will become "imperative" as multitouch attribution replaces traditional, last-touch attribution models.

While this report focuses specifically on DSPs, we have a differentiating strategy in market with ONE by AOL™, an open, programmatic platform that powers all advertising from Web to TV. Our full stack approach enables marketers to optimize against campaign goals across all screens, formats and inventory types. It delivers a consolidated, holistic view of online and offline marketing spend and performance, and represents our focus on simplifying the ad technology ecosystem for marketers, agencies and publishers.

We are thrilled to be recognized in this report as a leader. Forrester's Wave reports have served as an industry beacon for years, providing thoughtful, well-researched guidance to potential buyers. At AOL, we certainly recognize that a top DSP is of enormous value to advertisers, but we also believe its table stakes. Brands are now gravitating towards technology providers that can provide a truly comprehensive, open platform versus those that offer point solutions or "walled garden" technology. AOL's top DSP is just one critical part of an end-to-end programmatic offering designed to serve the varied and ever-changing needs of advertisers, agencies and publishers today and into the future.

Download the full report here:

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