AOL, Mindshare To Create Original Programs

On the media side, AOL has a longstanding relationship with Mindshare Entertainment, the branded entertainment division of media services agency. But AOL plans to announce a first-of-its-kind deal Wednesday with Mindshare Entertainment’s creative team.

“We saw a symbiotic opportunity to build and sell content in a differentiated way,” said Karen Cahn, general manager of branded experiences at AOL. “They are uniquely positioned next to clients ready to shift money to creative ideas on the Web.”

Together the partners plan to create original programming -- the direction and quality of which will be based largely on proprietary data and insights, according to Cahn. “For example, we’re working a social content franchise that will speak to the budget-conscious woman through the lenses of fashion, beauty and DIY,” she said. “We’re also working on a social engagement platform that helps extraordinary Americans fulfill their wildest dreams across the globe.”     

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Among Mindshare’s large roster of brand clients, Cahn promises to “carefully and organically marry [brands to] programming, but the user experience and the community come first.” 

According to Cahn, AOL’s partnership with Mindshare Entertainment is hardly exclusive. “We’re open to working with best creatives in the industry -- whether that’s other agencies or our internal creative team,” she said. “We want to work with the best and brightest people and agencies who understand brands.

More broadly, AOL has been investing in every area of its ad business. Late last month, the company debuted a centralized platform for campaign optimization, expansion and real-time bidding capabilities. The AdLearn Open Platform (AOP) -- an extension of Advertising.com’s current AdLearn technology -- was, in part, AOL’s answer to the rise of real-time marketplaces.

In February, meanwhile, AOL debuted a technology platform for marketers to customize the design, delivery and management of display advertising. Pictela Enterprise, as the new service is named, gives ad agencies a guided self-service interface to manage their clients’ brand assets and serve them directly into online display ads.

Separately, the AOL, Mindshare alliance is loosely connected to the Digital Content NewFronts (DCNF), which several online advertising heavyweights plan to host later this month. Along with Digitas, Google/YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft Advertising and Yahoo, AOL is hoping to shape a new and practical marketplace for connecting digital content with brand marketers and their media and marketing agencies.

“As we head into the NewFronts, you will see AOL make key announcements that show the value of what we can offer,” said Cahn.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is also expected to actively participate with DCNF, hosting collateral events and forums at the IAB Ad Lab through early May. During the same period, each founding partner will host an independent event in New York City -- the details can be found here.

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