AOL Ad Platform Customizes Display

Greg-RogersHoping to attract more brand dollars, AOL has debuted a technology platform for marketers to customize the design, delivery and management of display advertising. Pictela Enterprise gives ad agencies a guided self-service interface to manage their clients’ brand assets and serve them directly into online display ads.

“We are putting the power of publishing in the hands of the ad agencies and their clients,” said Greg Rogers, senior vice president, premium formats at AOL and CEO of Pictela -- which AOL acquired in late 2010. “Think of [Pictela Enterprise] as a content management system for ads.”

The platform is certified to serve its ad units across AOL, Advertising.com and most major online publishers. 

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Building on AOL’s Project Devil initiative, Pictela’s product suite of products and services includes a cloud-based platform for the creation, delivery and analysis of premium ads.

At launch, the system supports six IAB standard ad sizes, including 300x1050, 300x600, 970x90, 728x90, 160x600 and 300x250. 

Digitas and Mindshare have signed on as beta launch partners, while AOL also announced a partnership with Moat, a brand intelligence and analytics company.

Rogers said AOL recently conducted research with Moat that compared user interaction rates across three different versions of the same brand ad: the IAB portrait format versus custom rich media versus standard animated Flash. He claims the results showed that the IAB Portrait performed 12% better than the custom format, and 72% better than the animated Flash version.

“The 12% difference does not sound like much, but there’s been a perception in the marketplace that the only way to build a highly engaging ad unit is through custom rich media executions,” Rogers said. 

Thanks to third-party network sales and enhanced premium display ad sales related to Project Devil, AOL has recently been on an ad sales rebound. Earlier this month, it said fourth-quarter profit hit 42 cents a share, while display advertising rose 15% year-over-year. AOL also grew global advertising revenue by 10% during the most recent quarter, which represented its third consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth.

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