AOL Launches Cross-Screen Programmatic Ad Platform 'One'

Just over one year after announcing plans to roll all of its ad tech properties into a single platform, AOL on Tuesday officially announced the launch of “One by AOL,” a one-stop-shop programmatic ad platform. "One" includes media-buying technologies for display, video and television, inventory access, audience management, and measurement and analytics.

The One platform is an amalgamation of AOL’s existing ad tech stack, including and AOP. However, the company either has retired or will retire all individual brand names -- including, AOP, Marketplace, Pictela and others -- opting to operate under one brand name: “One.” What had previously been’s programmatic video offering, for example, is now a “module” of the One platform (i.e. “One by AOL: Video.”)

The only brand name to survive the launch of One is Convertro, the multi-touch attribution platform AOL scooped up last year. Convertro’s technology is baked into the One platform, but AOL is still selling Convertro as a stand-alone offering to represent the fact that despite being owned by AOL, Convertro remains a neutral media measurement firm, Seth Demsey, CTO of AOL Platforms, told Real-Time Daily.

"Convertro isn’t co-mingled," asserted Demsey. "Maybe we will let people in and audit us. The people [of Convertro], the algorithms [of Convertro] -- everything is 100% separate."

The AOL Platforms unit -- which is where the One platform will be housed -- has become one of AOL’s most important over the past 18 months. The Platforms unit accounted for 4% of AOL’s revenue in 2013, but that jumped to 39% in 2014.

Demsey declined to discuss how much revenue the Platforms unit is expected to drive in 2015, but the launch of One --  now the crown jewel of AOL’s programmatic offerings and what they’ve been working toward for nearly five years -- indicates AOL hopes its ride on the programmatic wave has only just begun.

Demsey said AOL wants the One platform to help solve four problems marketers face today: Lower the “tech tax” incurred by working with a variety of disparate partners, appropriately measure ROI, let marketers scale successful tactics across screens, and limit the loss of data.

“AOL’s mission has at its heart the ‘simplification’ of the digital space,” said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL, in a prepared statement.

AOL asserts it is not simply repackaging what it already offered advertisers. And while One’s offerings are similar to what AOL already had on the table -- it still offers programmatic display, video and TV buying, as well as reporting -- the One platform is about unifying the data from those different channels, said Demsey.

“[We are] not just unifying things in a single interface,” stressed Demsey. “This was not merely an integration exercise. It was a multi-year engineering endeavor to create and integrate data [as a] connective tissue.

“The data will be much more connected,” he continued. “We’ve had individual siloed programmatic solutions -- point solutions. So this is a massive pivot for us to move from point solutions, where data is lost between the solutions, to an integrated platform.”

Just how much more valuable does AOL think its clients’ marketing data will be, now that the data is connected between offerings? Think multiplication, rather than addition, said an AOL representative. “It’s one plus one equals three, not two,” the rep said.

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