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May 8th 2014

MapQuest at 18

Travel is more fun today, isn't it?

Travel is easier, more intuitive, more fulfilling and just plain better. If you had asked the good people who founded MapQuest in 1996, I think they would have shared that their hope for this -- the pioneer provider of online maps and directions -- would be to do just that: Make travel better.

Nearly two decades later, that's why this MapQuest crew gets out of bed every day. Our teams around the country and partners across the globe spend literally every second on the job working, yes, to improve travel, but also to expand the consumer's idea of how we can help make his or her DAY better.

As consumers, we look for help making 254,800 decisions each year. It's exhausting! Just trying to decide what's for dinner or where to take Fido for a groom can spin the day in a sour direction.

But what if that didn't have to happen? What if MapQuest were there to help with the most remedial decisions required every day?

Friends, that day is here. If you haven't checked out the new MapQuest Local experience launched just last month, that's a good place to start.

  • Taking Timmy to a soccer game and need to have dinner waiting when you get home? Our GrubHub integration allows users to review menus and order online from hundreds of thousands of restaurants nationwide
  • Did your favorite professional hockey players surprise everyone and make it to the second round? SeatGeek may be the answer to finding last-minute tickets.

And don't miss the myriad of other functionalities from booking an appointment and checking your flight status to finding a hotel or making a dinner reservation. It's the beginnings of what we believe will be the best single source of local discovery and experience on the planet.

Though we find the majority of our desktop users appreciate printed directions riding shotgun with them, millions have taken a liking to our free re-imagined navigation apps launched late last year.

Our heralded iOS and Android apps focus on the three most important areas for our consumers:

  • Safety: Our upside-down mode means people don't have to monkey with their phones to navigate the road. Hands on the 10-and-2, and we'll flip things around for you.
  • Accuracy: Nobody in this business offers the plethora of algorithms we do to get people there, even if road conditions change and an alternate route is required. And by the way, we did this before anyone else.
  • Relevancy: For those driving more than a few hours on their trips, the drag-and-drop map icon makes it a synch to find hotel options along the route.

There's a lot to see and do with the new MapQuest these days, and while we hope you'll take a peek at these meaningful offerings, we're not even close to being finished with them. Keep an eye on us these next few months as we continue to roll out features to make the every day better. Because it's what happens AFTER you get there that matters, isn't it?

Mar 11th 2014

Mandatory.com Launches Site Redesign

AOL's "man-brand," Mandatory, celebrates its second birthday today – and what better way to mark occasion than a brand-new, redesigned, mobile-optimized site? With at least 50% of traffic derived from mobile, the new experience will have a great impact on driving even further views.

When Mandatory launched, the primary focus was building an organic audience. Using sharable content, search and building partnerships, the site now has about 5 million unique visits a month – and consistently leads the Men's Lifestyle category*.

What else can we expect from Mandatory 2.0?

  • A fully responsive mobile site... and increased mobile traffic = optimized mobile ad experiences, so everybody wins
  • A more dynamic homepage
  • More sharable, fun content


For highlights on Mandatory's journey, new features and a surprise*, check out the video with Luke Wolter, Mandatory General Manager, and Cory Jones, Lead Editor for Mandatory below:

*(source: Comscore MediaMetrix, Feb. '14)

*Cat video

Dec 5th 2013

Buysight Marks First Anniversary in AOL Family

Today marks the one-year anniversary of AOL acquiring Buysight, an industry-leading retargeting and intent-based targeting company. Buysight - now called Advertising.com Dynamic Retargeter (ADR) -allows brands to market to consumers who have already visited their site.

In the past year, Buysight has become deeply integrated into AOL Networks with AdLearn Open Platform and Advertising.com, and has signed up great brands and clients.

Armin Ebrahimi, CEO of ADR and head of the Palo Alto office, invited the office to celebrate the milestone later today. Congratulations to the team for a great year!

Oct 17th 2013

15 Years of Advertising.com

Wow, time flies. I can remember my first day at Advertising.com, now 13+ years ago. I had left my "safe" corporate career job at Arthur Andersen to join a "risky" startup as one of the partners suggested (#irony), and got to be part of the Web "boom" of the late '90s and early 2000s. It's amazing to reflect on how the company has grown over the years. Looking back over the past decade plus, there are several things that strike me:

The Early Days
Launching products and iterating quickly was a staple of the business. We had a lot of ideas – some worked well and others, not so much. There were those that had really successful runs that ultimately lost steam (remember the "GetPaid4" toolbar?) and ideas that were ahead of their time, like serving Mercedes Benz ads into Palm Pilots. And, of course, we had our share of busts. Looking back, the thing I'm most proud of is that we never lost sight of our North Star: differentiated products and technology that served the customer. Laser focus on creating long-term value for advertisers, publishers and consumers has been rooted in our culture from the very beginning.

The Internet Bust and 'Digital Depression'
In early 2001, the Advertising.com leadership team faced the difficult (but correct) decision to reduce the staff by nearly 40%. It was one of the hardest times in my professional career. I remember that day and how personal this was for our founders. It wasn't about the business – it was the impact on the people who had taken personal and professional risks to join the company. Ironically, amidst this terrible time was when I truly came to value the culture of Advertising.com. I realized that, just as in life, it's easy to do good business in high times; not so easy when it's in jeopardy.

It was then I realized what an advantage it was that Advertising.com was headquartered in Baltimore -- that more than 80% of our employees were part of this special community. The bond we all shared as the only digital advertising startup in the region at the time helped us get through the 'digital depression' and it proved to be a strong retention asset for those who were committed to the city. I was one of them.

"You've Been Acquired"
The business rebounded in full force, and in early 2004 Advertising.com filed an S-1. The leadership team was transparent with the employees and staff, and it was a very exciting time. Ultimately, the leadership and Board received an offer from AOL. I remember how exciting it was when AOL announced it had made an offer to acquire Advertising.com. By late summer of 2004, we were part of the AOL family. How far we had come from just a few years ago when we were fighting for survival. It was a very different AOL than the AOL of today, and we were fortunate to have Jon Miller and Ted Leonsis as business sponsors as they sought to move AOL beyond a subscription-only business in 2004. Our cultures were quite different, but they didn't come in and try to change who we were. Instead, they gave us room to grow and innovate. With the ongoing leadership of founders Scott and John Ferber, as well as our president and COO Gar Richlin, we started to innovate and grow in ways we hadn't envisioned within our new AOL parent.

Moving to Platforms
It wasn't long before Advertising.com evolved past the traditional "ad network." Many don't know this, but one of the biggest innovations that came out of our product and engineering shops was real-time bidding in 2007! Yes, you read that right, 2007. While we had already been offering a "closed auction exchange" on a managed services basis, we had quietly expanded into the real-time bidding world. It would be some time before the market caught up to this.

Today, we're leading the programmatic platforms movement. We service the buy side and the sell side with our product suite offerings, AdLearn Open Platform (AOP) and MARKETPLACE. And we've just welcomed yet another game-changing platform asset into the mix, Adap.tv. Side note: AOL, you haven't lost your acquisition touch!

The Advertising.com "Mafia"
The Advertising.com alumni network has expanded greatly over the years, and you can find them in influential positions at nearly every major global digital advertising company ... at Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and the list goes on and on. Closer to home, it's remarkable to see the impact Advertising.com has had in growing the Baltimore technology community. Our alumni have created Videology, founded by Scott Ferber; Lotame, founded by Andy Monfried, and Millennial Media, led by Chris Brandenberg and Steve Root.

Looking Ahead
Over all these years, perhaps one of the most important lessons I've learned here is that the only constant is change. I remember a time when popunder ads were a core part of our business. (How would we ever survive without popunders!)

There's always another threat, another pitfall, another company chasing our heels, but even more so, opportunity that presents itself every day. Over the past several years, I've been fortunate to partner with leaders such as Don Kennedy, Chris Heine and others who have driven Advertising.com and now AOL Networks growth through good times and the unavoidable economic and product cycle hiccups.

For everyone who has helped build this business over the past 15 years, thank you. You've made this a very special place. Fifteen years is a great achievement. I hope you're as excited for the next 15 as I am.

Happy 15th anniversary, Advertising.com.

Feb 2nd 2012

Happy Anniversary HuffPost!


We'll soon celebrate the one year anniversary of our acquisition of The Huffington Post and we couldn't be prouder. Since the deal closed in March 2011, we have launched forty-four new verticals, attracted 20,000 bloggers and surpassed 130 million comments, exceeding our growth expectations, while connecting millions of users to content covering all aspects of their lives. We've increased our hyper local reach with eight local city editions and expanded internationally in key markets with the launches of HuffPost UK, HuffPost Canada, and Le Huffington Post in France. Launches in Italy and Spain are already planned for later this year enabling us to continue to cover the latest news and events with a global perspective.

Our long list of luminary bloggers provide opinions on a wide-range of topics making news today and include politicians, celebrities, academics and policy experts. Among them are Nora Ephron, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Bill Maher, Robert Redford, Alec Baldwin, Deepak Chopra, Scarlett Johansson, Al Gore, Elton John, Cindy McCain, Rita Wilson, Bill Gates, and Charlie Rose.

From politics and parenting to science and style, conversations start at The Huffington Post, and you can expect only bigger and better things in 2012. Read more about the accomplishments achieved in the last year in Arianna Huffington's blog post.

Cheers!

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