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bob lord posts

Aug 4th 2014

Inertia Is Stifling Innovation - and the 'Tech Tax' is No Myth

As I reflect upon my first anniversary as global CEO for AOL Platforms, I've gained a unique perspective on the industry after years on the agency side of the business (most recently as global CEO of Razorfish and CEO of Publicis Groupe's digital technology division), to now being fully immersed in the technical innovations that are powering the rapidly evolving digital ad and publishing ecosystems. AOL has given me new insight into the many challenges and opportunities that marketers encounter when navigating the complex and crowded world of programmatic buying, data analytics, attribution, mobile, online video and more. Here are a few things I have learned in the last year -- both the good and the bad:

1. The "tech tax" is no myth. The words "confusing" and "complex" are used to describe the current ad tech landscape for a reason. A multitude of highly specialized product vendors are all vying for a sliver of the marketing pie. Currently, for every dollar that a brand spends on a digital placement, more than half is siphoned off to a complicated web of trading desks, private exchanges, DSPs (demand-side platforms), SSPs (supply-side platforms), data aggregators, tag management vendors, ad verification vendors, retargeters and more. Having seen the waste inherent in our bloated publishing and advertising ecosystems first-hand, my take is that the industry's No. 1 objective should be to unify and simplify the technologies that automate the planning, buying, execution, optimization and measurement of cross-screen and cross-format campaigns. The innovation exists. Our job is to harness it, simplify it and deploy it to increase the power and reach of every advertising dollar.

2. Inertia is stifling innovation. Things that worked in traditional media -- like "splitting the buy" across broadcast networks and static one-month-ahead planning -- don't make sense in today's data-driven digital world. Today the wealth of data and technology available make it possible to continually analyze behavior and performance data, empowering brands to zero in on the most relevant audiences and inventory in real-time, rather than hedge their bets. We wholeheartedly agree with WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell that data experts have an important role to play in this changing agency landscape: "You need to have programmers, engineers, scientists and mathematicians, and it needs different types of agency people working together." Marketers and brand executives that don't evolve from doing things "the way they've always been done" will be left behind. Those that adapt their strategies to the digital age will grow and thrive.

3. The value of data is exponential. Too many marketers lock information in silos (separating mobile, social and desktop analytics for example), which leaves them unable to realize the full potential of their data. Confirmed in a soon-to-be released study on social media marketing conducted by Convertro (the multi-touch attribution vendor acquired this year by AOL), we've long known that consumers don't engage with content in silos -- they move between devices throughout the day. And while a lower number of conversions happen on social, engagement on this channel is important to customer awareness and consideration of products. This will be increasingly important as, according to a study from the ANA and Nielsen, by 2016 nearly half of media campaigns are expected to be multiscreen. The bottom line is that data increases exponentially when it can be integrated, analyzed holistically and used to optimize decisions across all marketing channels. And marketers need to know how campaign performance is impacted by each individual impression, regardless of which screens or types of inventory are engaged.

4. Don't bother with meaningless distinctions. Our industry spends way too much time asking where the dollars are going to go next: TV or video? Mobile or display? Broadcast or digital? All decisions, whether media, creative or format-driven, should focus on reaching the consumer wherever they are, whenever they are ready to engage. And optimizing the allocation of total ad spend successfully depends on automation and data optimization that can tell you what's working, what's not and where improvements should be made, regardless of the channel.

After a year of focusing on how to make advertising technology better, faster, smarter and more efficient, I'm looking forward to a future where advertisers adopt the tools and processes they need to accomplish their most important goal: engage with consumers and move their business forward. Working together, the CMO and CTO will drive business results. Period.

Read the original article on Ad Age here.

Jun 17th 2014

Bob Lord Moderates Panel for Students Interested in Tech

As coding becomes an increasingly-important literacy, AOL is committed to helping students in our communities gain access to career exploration in the tech and engineering fields.

Last week, Bob Lord, CEO of AOL Platforms, moderated a panel discussion at the AOL NY office for a group of 35 8th-grade students from The Eagle Academy. As part of AOL's ongoing Building Blocks of Success program, our office strives to partner with local NYC schools and community organizations to give students the opportunity to learn about career opportunities in tech and engineering. To date, AOL has hosted 260 students in the NYC office in partnership with organizations like All Star Code, Girls Who Code, Citizen Schools, Mentoring USA, and Step Up Women's Network.

Our program included a behind the scenes tour of the AOL studio, a panel discussion moderated by Bob Lord, and an interactive tech activity to give the students the opportunity to work one-on-one with AOL engineers.

AOL engineers worked with small groups of students to help them understand the fundamental thought process that goes into writing code. The goal of the 'Be The Robot' activity is to help the students understand the concepts behind coding – with the hope of sparking their interest in and encouraging motivation to learn different coding languages.

Jun 12th 2014

Bob Lord Wins Media Professional of the Year

AOL UK was out in force last night for the Online Media Awards, which are affiliated with Britain's leading media and marketing trade news title The Drum. The awards recognize the best talent, platforms and innovations in the world of online media.

AOL Platforms CEO Bob Lord was named Media Professional of the Year, which was the only award chosen for by The Drum editorial team and voted for by the public.
Head of International Graham Moysey picked up the award on Bob's behalf. HuffPost UK were highly commended in the Best National / World News Site, beating competition from the International New York Times, ITV News and Wall Street Journal. Parentdish Editor Tamsin Kelly was shortlisted for Online Editor of the Year, but faced stiff competition from Channel 4 News, which took home the award.

Congratulations to all involved!

Apr 1st 2014

Full Steam Ahead for AOL Platforms

What an amazing few weeks it's been. We just unveiled our vision for our global programmatic advertising platform, ONE by AOL, at ad:tech San Francisco and we rebranded AOL Networks to AOL Platforms to better represent our global offerings and strategy.

Our vision is to build the most sophisticated, efficient and open technology platforms for global brands, agencies and content owners - with innovative capabilities supporting cross-screen programmatic planning and buying, unified data optimization and the delivery of premium experiences to consumers whether on desktops, mobile devices, video or linear TV. With these priorities in mind, it is important that we have talented and accountable leaders at the helm of our top investments.

Leadership Appointments

Ad.com serves as a core and important pillar for AOL Platforms. Our massive cross-screen business continues to thrive, contributing significantly to AOL Platforms' $785M of 2013 revenue. As we look towards the future, we see a tremendous opportunity to extend Ad.com's powerful scale and performance to premium experiences across the network, AOP and MARKETPLACE, Pictela and ADTECH. I believe that dynamic creative optimization and real-time, data-driven ad experiences are the future of display, and there is no business better poised to lead this movement at scale than Ad.com. Don Kennedy has been instrumental in the success and meteoric growth of this business for well over ten years and I'm pleased to announce his appointment today as president of Ad.com.

I am also happy to announce that Toby Gabriner will lead ONE, as well as assuming leadership responsibility for Adap.tv. Toby brings more than 14 years of ad tech experience to his new role at ONE, where he will focus on building a fully integrated enterprise solution for brands, agencies and publishers and growing the revenues generated by this key pillar of our business. In addition to working with Adap.tv, he's driven success at a number of other companies, including Carat Interactive, [X+1] and Tribal Fusion. I'm looking forward to working closely with Toby as our vision for ONE continues to take shape and we go to market in full force.

Adap.tv co-founder and CEO, Amir Ashkenazi, has been named president of AOL Platforms. Amir will play a critical role in Platforms' strategy as well as work with Seth Demsey, Teg Grenager and Toby Gabriner on our ONE platform and Ran Harnevo on the AOL On video strategy. Amir has long-proven to be a visionary leader and entrepreneur, and I am excited to have him impact more of our business with his expanded role.

Gravity Joins AOL Platforms

Last but certainly not least, today we also welcome another best-of-breed platform in Gravity to AOL Platforms. AOL acquired the cross-screen content personalization and Interest Graph company in January of this year, and it will be an important part of how we service our publisher and brand clients moving forward. Both publishers and brands use the platform today to understand consumer interests, similarities and intent.

I believe our strategy and structure is in place to lead the market in automation, video and premium experiences. Our powerful technology platforms are global, data-driven, modular and fully cross-screen (TV included). We are committed to meeting our advertiser, agency and publisher client needs today, and helping them in the future as the market evolves in near-real time.

Mar 26th 2014

ONE by AOL: A Fully Integrated Enterprise Solution for Brands, Agencies and Publishers

There's no question that the advertising industry has gone through enormous change in recent years, fueled by an array of technological and cultural shifts – from innovations in how media is bought and sold to the rise of the smart phone, tablets, online video and social networking. It's an exciting moment: As people consume and share content in more varied ways than ever, marketers have multiple new opportunities to understand, reach and engage with their audiences.

At the same time, however, chaos in the ad-tech landscape has reached an all-time high, creating incredible complexities for brands, agencies and publishers attempting to sort through the sprawl of available choices.

ONE by AOL is about to change that.
ONE by AOL

Today, we're excited to unveil our plans to build a new, global programmatic advertising platform for brands, agencies and publishers. ONE, which is in early development, will unite the talent, experience and technological innovation behind Adap.tv, AdLearn Open Platform and MARKETPLACE. It will provide a single, unified, enterprise-level platform for driving powerful brand insight and marketing executions across all screens, formats and inventory types. It will fulfill our vision for advertising's future: an open ecosystem where partners and competitors, publishers and marketers, are all beneficiaries of a more seamless and efficiency-focused technology landscape.

As part of today's announcement made at ad:tech San Francisco, IPG Mediabrands announced its plans to be the charter agency network partner for ONE --reinforcing its commitment to fully automating half of its media investments by 2016. AOL shares the vision with IPG Mediabrands around harnessing the power of data and technology to make smarter, faster decisions that drive client business results.

The holy grail of marketing is helping marketers understand how direct response and brand budgets can interact together. ONE ensures that data powers media selection and allocation, pricing and creative. It is the integrator of media across every screen and the automator of decisions that have long not needed human attention. The goal of a platform like ONE – that is open and that doesn't discriminate – is to enable advertisers, agencies and publishers to unlock much greater value from technology innovation and realize efficiencies simply not possible before.

What do we mean by an open, global ecosystem? It means that marketers who have made a commitment to an external partner for a piece of the ad tech stack can integrate and plug that solution into our platform. This gives advertisers and publishers incredible flexibility with elements like data and attribution, enabling them to see and manage all of their investments on a single platform in real-time.

You may also have noticed a change in our name. As AOL continues its push into the global marketing technology business, the segment formerly known as AOL Networks will now be known as AOL Platforms, reflecting the full power of the reach and deep capabilities behind ONE.

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