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Jun 8th 2012

Hatch Day Incubates Ideas for AOL


Developers, coders, hackers, creative-thinkers and innovators from all over AOL huddled together all day Wednesday to develop and implement cool ideas during our Hatch Day hackathon. The goal of the event: Come up with ideas to make MapQuest the ultimate destination for trip planning.

Hosted from Patch's New York headquarters, the event pulled together AOLers from Denver, Dulles, Dublin, Lancaster, New York and several remote offices. "What makes Hatch Days so great is that teams from all over the company assemble to help make a product, in this case, MapQuest, better," said CTO Curtis Brown. "The diversity of new ideas, community building and best-practice sharing makes Hatch Day events an invaluable part of our engineering and product culture."

When I first heard about Hatch Day and its purpose I was immediately inspired to participate. I don't know the first thing about coding, but loved the idea of being part of the product development process from inception, even if it was just as an observer. The real fun began as teams came together to flush out details of their projects, collaborating and sharing snippets of code and app keys via AIM Blast, and posting offers for assistance based on their level of expertise. I especially enjoyed listening in to the Pictela team brainstorm as they built out a new concept for the Portrait/Devil ad unit.

The day flew and before long it was time for the pitch presentations. Eighteen projects were presented covering everything from plotting itineraries to a topographic hiking map to the integration of the MapQuest API to 3G-enabled Kindles. Overall, I found Hatch Day to be eye-opening by seeing the results of several teams' efforts to innovate technology for our products and revitalize the culture of innovation at AOL. There are so many ways we can cross-collaborate as a company, but the projects that were created on this day, and Hatch Days to come, prove what can happen when we communicate openly and source internal talent.

To learn more about joining the AOL Team click here.

Apr 24th 2012

AOL Participates in First Digital Content NewFront

In February AOL joined forces with Digitas, Hulu, MSN, Yahoo! and YouTube to bring the first-ever Digital Content NewFronts (DCNFs) to the market. The day has come for AOL to show the market the quality and depth of our offerings, and the level of differentiation we bring to advertisers.

Today, we bring together AOL's clients with leading content creators, distributors and talent in a unique environment that showcases all that we have to offer. Our program focus: Powering Brands through Ideas and Content.

We've seen – from our consumer and advertiser insights – that premium content powers the differentiation that brands are looking for to reach and engage with consumers. AOL powers content and brands through its well-known media properties, including Autoblog, TechCrunch, Moviefone, Engadget, The Huffington Post, Stylelist, MapQuest and Patch. As a part of this, we are deeply committed to original programming and understand the importance of creating a meaningful marketplace for brands with digital content. Given our range of branded, premium, social and video-centric programming, we continue to deliver interesting and valuable experiences to users -which is what advertisers want and need.

This afternoon at the Highline Stages in NYC, AOL will bring together 450 brand advertisers, marketers, agencies and digital and TV media buyers to announce AOL's new slate of video programming, promote original programming producers and casts, unveil a new product and showcase the power and reach of the AOL brand.

I'll be keynoting the event, and program speakers and panels will include:

  • Brand Solutions with AOL's Jim Norton, Head of Sales & Janet Balis, Head of Sales Strategy, Marketing and Partnerships

  • Mega-Trends with AOL's Ned Brody, Chief Revenue Officer

  • Behind Our Content with Jim Stengel, CEO of Jim Stengel Co. and former Global Marketing Officer for P&G (moderator):
    • Michael Hogan, Moviefone
    • Christina Norman, HuffPost BlackVoices
    • David Kiley, AOL Autos
    • Tim Stevens, AOL Tech
    • Susan Kaplow, HuffPost Women

  • Main Stage with Ran Harnevo, Head of AOL Video

We'll also have on stage with us incredibly talented fashion & style influencers like Nina Garcia, Rachel Roy and Erin Fetherston; Michael Eisner, an icon in the American entertainment industry, and Larry Tanz, CEO, Vuguru, as well as the cast of a new web series: Julie Warner, Kristy Swanson, Amy Yasbeck, and Romy Rosemont; and Amy Harris, best known for Sex and the City, will participate in the event experience. And there could be more surprises ...

We are thrilled to be a part of this inaugural event and look forward to many Digital Content NewFronts to come.

Apr 17th 2012

Reaching a Million People One Tweet at a Time

When we had the opportunity to rekindle our relationship with TOMS to help celebrate this year's One Day Without Shoes, we spent a lot of time of trying to think of the right way to extend our relationship. In 2011, we had over 1,000 employees all around the world kick off their shoes to raise awareness for children who don't have them.

At first, we considered the idea of doing something twice as big. And then ten times as big. And then 100 times as big, arriving at the number: 100,000. We decided interacting with 100,000 people to tell them about the One Day Without Shoes message would be the number that we would rally our employees and customers around. But how do you count people "we told about something"? It's relatively easy in social media to measure likes, followers, comments, and retweets by using some basic social media analysis tools - but what we were doing was something a little bit different. Each one of these social actions would contribute to the number of people we "told about something", and our goal was really just to reach people with the message.

We then turned to our friends at Simply Measured, and took a look at what reports they had available to help us and found that they were able to measure "Reach", a calculation that measured the potential audience size for our tweets (i.e. how many people may have seen our message through Tweets made by ourselves and others sharing the campaign). Reaching people through Tweets was something we do every day, but previously we'd been unable to quickly and effectively measure this on a campaign basis. Simply Measured has been a great partner to work with, and have even shared a bit more about the methodology used to measure our metrics in a case study on their blog.

The end result was a set of tactics that included ways for all sorts of different users, across a few different platforms, to help incite people to join the movement:

  • We donated a TOMS One Day Without Shoes mail sign in page that ran from April 7th to April 9th. The sign in page reaches an average of 10 million impressions a day**
  • Our about.me team encouraged consumers to change their profile pages to help raise awareness and blogged about the event.
  • AOL Advertising offered up a Style Your Sole party to the agency who was able to best evangelize their employees to share the word.
  • MapQuest donated advertising space on top of every map today to raise awareness about the campaign.
  • AOL Artists around the world are pledging to go barefoot with AOL as well. Check out AOL Artists' Tumblr for updates on which artists are going barefoot and to see them in action.
  • We shared the campaign in taxicab spots that ran in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston (check out the video below).


All of these calls to action had a social component that would allow users to take an action, and then easily share what they were doing.

We launched our campaign on March 18th, with an initial goal of reaching 100,000 people by April 10th - the day of One Day Without Shoes. That day, we were lucky enough to have TOMS Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie join us to tell the story of TOMS and One Day Without Shoes. After the event, we started to invite our employees to contribute tweets about the topic, and offered a few tweets from our AOL Twitter account, and to our surprise, we were over our 100,000 reached goal in less than 18 hours. In the tradition of thinking big, we decided to reset our goal to one million. Sure enough, by the end of the campaign, we had some stats to be proud of that we want to share. In total, we reached:

  • A potential audience of more than 1.2 million people on Twitter
  • Around 20,000 people through About.me, where more than 600 people changed their profile to a special TOMS background. (read more about their success)**
  • Millions through the TOMS messaging on MapQuest and on AOL Mail.**
  • Nearly 200,000 people who visited the TOMS page on AOL Impact**
  • Hundreds of employees took part in events all across our offices and shared the news via Twitter


It was great to see so many people respond positively to our campaign and us to learn a lot more about how social content can spread.

Reflecting on AOL's contribution, Blake added, "Because of AOL's continued support of One Day Without Shoes, we were able to make an impact. Through this year's partnership, we built a program with highly measurable results. We can't thank enough everyone that participated, and because of your contributions, we were able to bring so much more awareness to our cause."

We hope you were able to take part in TOMS One Day Without Shoes and if not this year, then mark your calendar for next year! Learn more about the TOMS One for One movement at TOMS.com.


(Photo by Eileen O'Brien)

** Internal AOL Data

Apr 10th 2012

AOL Celebrates TOMS' One Day Without Shoes


Back in March, Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, stopped by our offices to share the story of TOMS, the impact his revolutionary one-for-one model has had on the world, and explain why the One Day without Shoes campaign plays such an integral part in his company's mission.

Last year, more than 1,000 AOLers went barefoot and due to the amazing employee response we received, we decided to increase our impact and help spread the word not just to employees, but to our clients and consumers as well. In order to do this, we launched the 100,000 Voices Challenge on AOL Impact, a social media campaign aimed to spread the word by reaching 100,000 people with the One Day Without Shoes (ODWS). You can learn more about the 100,000 challenge by visiting our ODWS page on AOL Impact, and also be entered to win a $50 TOMS gift card *

We are excited to announce that we blew past our initial goal of 100,000, and were able to reach over 1,000,000 people (and still growing) with the ODWS message! We were able to do this by leveraging all of our best-in-class assets to spread the word. Here's how we did it:

  • We donated a TOMS One Day Without Shoes mail sign in page that ran from April 7th to April 9th. The sign in page reaches an average of 10 million impressions a day**
  • Our about.me team encouraged consumers to change their profile pages to help raise awareness and blogged about the event.
  • AOL Advertising offered up a Style Your Sole party to the agency who was able to best evangelize their employees to share the word.
  • MapQuest donated advertising space on top of every map today to raise awareness about the campaign.
  • AOL Artists around the world are pledging to go barefoot with AOL as well. Check out AOL Artists' Tumblr for updates on which artists are going barefoot and to see them in action.
  • Inside AOL offices, AOLers are celebrating barefoot with activations like TOMS themed pedicures and foot massages.
  • We shared the campaign in taxicab spots that ran in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston (check out the video below).

We encourage you to join us in who are kicking off their shoes today to spread awareness – you may just have a big impact on a child's life.



*Contest ends 11: 59PM ET on 4/10
**Internal AOL data

Apr 9th 2012

MapQuest Makes Adding Maps to Pinterest Easy

If you can dream it, you can pin it. Heck, even if you can't dream it, someone else dreamt it and you can just 're-pin' it. Unless you have been living on a remote island in the south pacific for past six months, you've probably heard about the tremendously popular social platform that enables people to create pin boards of things they love or are inspired by, called Pinterest. Travel, be it a place you've visited or a place you like to go to, is a big part of what people share on Pinterest. We thought we'd make travel 'pinning' even better by giving people the option to create maps that work with Pinterest so each trip has context to followers.

Here are some cool examples of how people on Pinterest use MapQuest to make their travel related pins even cooler.


How does it work? It's super easy, if you just want a map of a location, simply create your map on MapQuest and then click the "Pin It" Button at the top right of the MapQuest page. This will create a map image and link that you can then upload to Pinterest and add to your 'pin board'.
Careful...it's addictive!

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