AOL has announced the global launch of a new demand-side platform, AOL One, which consolidates the company’s major technology acquisitions from the past decade. Using the new platform, media buyers will be able to programmatically purchase display, mobile, online video and linear TV inventory side-by-side, and apply data targeting and measurement to cross-platform campaigns.
One combines technology from video platform Adap.tv with display/mobile platforms AdLearn Open Platform and Marketplace. AOL recently expanded Adap.tv to include linear TV buying. By folding this into One, AOL will become the first company to offer a platform for simultaneously executing desktop, mobile and broadcast campaigns.
“If you ask the average marketer if they’re ready for a fundamental transformation of worklfow in how they execute across digital and television, I think most would tell you they’re not,” says Joe Strolz, general manager of AOL Canada. “So the opportunity to partner with marketers — to provide the tools that will help them make the most of that transition and capture the value that it’s meant to drive — is both massive and very exciting.”
The platform will be rolled out globally later this year, beginning with existing users of Adap.tv and AOP.
One was announced by AOL’s chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong at ad:tech San Fracisco Monday morning. He was joined on stage by IPG Mediabrands global CEO Matt Seiler, who announced that IPG would be a charter partner on the project, and the first holding company to commit to using the platform. Seiler said that adopting the platform will help IPG meet its stated goal of making 50% of all of its North American media buys programmatically by 2016.
IPG’s investment arm, Magna Global, has significantly invested in developing AOL’s tech offering. Magna predicts that by 2016, 80% of display, video and mobile buys in the U.S. will be transacted programmatically.
In its press release, AOL described One as “completely format, screen and inventory agnostic.” Like other DSPs, One will plug into any exchange, network or other source of supply, including AOL’s 22,000-publisher network. One is enabled for both bidding on exchange inventory and buying impressions direct from publishers using programmatic technology.
AOL says the One platform will provide post-campaign assessments that combine data across all screens and formats, at a time when cross-media measurement is still considered nascent by many in the industry. But a large part of the problem with cross-screen measurement is that TV and digital data are typically siloed and incomparable. If marketers are buying broadcast and digital media in the same place, it will be much easier to reconcile them.
Strolz said he expects many of One’s cross-screen measurement capabilities will come from third party providers. The platform will provide open APIs, so that advertisers can easily integrate their third party measurement, targeting and optimization technologies.
“Our design philosophy is to have an open ecosystem,” said Strolz. “If at the design level it’s open, that allows data to move seamlessly across all screens, from end to end. That then creates an opportunity for a marketer to have insights, instead of pockets of information, about the consumers that they’re trying to reach. And at the industry level, it allows for the further development and growth of cross-screen measurement standards.”
Launching an all-in-one tech solution is an anticipated move from AOL, which has been acquiring a range of ad tech solutions and promising clients an end-to-end programmatic technology stack. Strolz said the company believes the best way forward for the industry is a consolidation of point solutions into a few big, feature-heavy platforms, like ONE. This will substantially reduce media buyers’ technology costs — which AOL estimates suck up 55-75 cents of every digital ad dollar — while improving the quality of services and insights rendered.
To emphasize that this is a philosophical pivot as well as a technological one, AOL is rebranding its ad tech division from AOL Networks to AOL Platforms.
AOL’s introductory video