AOL is gradually rolling out its giant multimedia Project Devil ad units across its own properties, but the firm has even bigger hopes for the ad experiment. Ultimately, the company aims to deliver the units on non-AOL sites, too. The next step leading in that direction, however, will be the placement of the units on an additional eight sites next month.
AOL introduced the Devil ads - which enable features like video, mapping, and social media functionality - on just two of its properties, Moviefone.com and StyleList.com, in September. The publisher will add another eight of its sites to the short list in November, according to Dirk Freytag, SVP at AOL and CEO of its ad management platform company, AdTech. AdTech powers ad serving and management on AOL properties and runs ad delivery and management for hundreds of publisher sites in the U.S. and Europe, the bulk of which are based in Europe.
Devil ads for Wal-Mart appeared on Stylelist yesterday, according to an AOL spokesperson. When the product launched, AOL said seven brands would run the units: Cheerios, Lexus, Macy's, Olay, Pillsbury Crescents, Sprint, and Suave Professionals.
AOL is not hurrying the roll out. Since the ads are the sole placement on pages where they appear, the addition of the new units has resulted in fewer impressions, said Freytag. Yet, he said although the inventory volume has decreased, ad revenue has remained the same. The company expects its ad revenue to grow as the Devil promos are disseminated across its sites, he told ClickZ News.
"We're learning," said Freytag, explaining that the extension of the ads will be gradual.
"We need advertisers to understand and accept this is something different," he said, while stating that AOL intends for the initiative to "help the industry."
In its stated goal to help publishers bring in higher ad prices, AOL is taking a similar tack to the Online Publishers Association. The OPA last year introduced new jumbo ad sizes in an effort to generate more premium ad dollars for its publisher members.
If AOL does go through with its plan to extend the Project Devil ads to non-AOL sites, it is unclear whether the firm would use its broad-reaching Advertising.com network to do it. But it seems like the logical approach.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014