engagement posts

Mar 27th 2012

AOL's Brit Keller Talks Ads, Equality and Skateboarding

In an industry that's constantly evolving, it's hard to differentiate a company's advertising offerings from those of its competitors in the space. It takes a uniquely talented individual to tackle this challenge and Brit Keller, manager of the AOL advertising operations team, has the solution.

An AOLer for over seven years, Keller oversees all parts of the advertising process – from pricing to design to creative launch – and understands the factors that contribute to successful advertising offerings.

According to Keller, what makes AOL different is its products, technology and people. "Our products are fantastic – both the content we produce and the products we offer to advertisers specifically," says Keller. "Meanwhile, our technology delivers great results towards our clients' objectives, but the real differentiator is our people. We offer the best customer service in the marketplace and our people behind the scenes making our products and technology are as good as they get."

"From a campaign perspective, we're looking for business that is healthy and sustainable – it has to make sense for AOL and our clients from a yield standpoint. From an ad perspective, I always ask myself whether or not I would click or engage with the ad. We're all internet users first and foremost, so we have to constantly ask ourselves: Would I click on that? Will this yield brand loyalty? We then look at engagement measurements and ask: How are consumers interacting? How long? Are they clicking through? What actions are they taking? There's always a quantitative and qualitative analysis. If we meet and exceed our clients' expectations, and they continue to be a long term partner, those relationships are indicative of our success."

When asked about ad design, Keller explains that having a good understanding of the brand is most important. "Each brand has guidelines that they want us to work within. Once we have these parameters we can then identify that particular campaign's objectives. Does the client want to drive loyalty and engagement? Are they looking to drive clicks and/or a particular action? Lastly, we want to have fun with the design. We want the experience for online consumers to be as positive as possible by aligning the advertising with our content standards. It's an iterative process so we produce several concepts, work through rounds of feedback and make continual refinements before we reach the final product we want to publish and put out to the consumer."

Although the technology and operational part of the advertising industry is often associated as a male-heavy field, Keller says she doesn't see the connotation. "AOL does a great job of cultivating an open and equal environment for all employees. It's rare when I realize that I'm the only girl sitting in the room," said Keller. "AOL hires the brightest and most innovative people in the industry so I am constantly challenged to keep up with brilliant people around me. That's more of a factor then being a female." Keller also lists the people that work at AOL as her favorite part about working at the company. "AOL has been through a lot over the past years, and the people here are truly dedicated and inspired by what we do. We're making a difference in the industry and the company. It's an exciting time to be at AOL and I get reinvigorated every day because I work with folks who feel the exact same way.

And what makes Brit unique, other than her analytical mind and great understanding of the ad space? Her skateboard. An avid skateboarder, Keller spends her free time skating on the indoor ramp she shares with a bunch of her friends. She also skates with her Baltimore colleagues, but did not trythe sport until her mid-twenties which she does not recommend. "Broken bones hurt more later in life than when you're seven years old."

Learn more about AOL Advertising's offerings at http://advertising.aol.com/.

Dec 13th 2011

Consumers First: Best Practices for Creating Engaging Ad Experiences

You all undoubtedly remember the "Natural Born Clickers" study that was released by comScore in conjunction with Starcom USA and Tacoda back in 2007. Findings showed that only 32% of online users clicked on at least one display ad during one month. Surely, driving sales isn't the only goal of a campaign but it's supposed to account for something, right?

Fast forward to late 2009 when the three got back together to revisit the results. New research showed that 32% was cut by half; only 16% of all internet users were clicking on at least one display ad in a month. An even deeper dive showed that 8% of internet users accounted for 85% of all clicks.

8%? No marketer would ever produce a campaign that targeted just 8% of the population. Yet, that's what they were doing by building campaigns around the click. We at AOL – and a lot of the digital advertising industry – believe there is a better metric: engagement. Which is why in June 2011, AOL commissioned Nielsen to conduct a research study to find out who is naturally prone to engaging with online advertising.

The study, which came to be known as "Consumers First: Best Practices For Creating Engaging Ad Experiences", took a look at the intersection of the population exposed to Premium Formats with Nielsen's robust online panel to garner insights about consumers' online advertising behavior. We wanted to develop a profile of who is engaging with online ads, what they think about display and how to create a robust experience for them online.

One of our first findings was that 59% of users say they dislike online display ads. However, with internal data showing that AOL Premium Formats saw 15M interactions over the course of three months, we knew someone was engaging – a group that we dubbed "Engagers". Engagers are users who actively, intentionally interact with an ad unit, and these people will interact with online advertising, if you give them a reason to.

To find out what makes up an Engager and how to get them interacting with online ads, click here to download the full study.

Source: comScore, Inc. custom analysis, Total US Online Population, XPC Persons Panel, July 2007 data period
Source: Nielsen Custom Study, August 2011

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