In Cannes, Huffington and Armstrong talk up mission to "humanize" web.
Cannes, France-- AOL has unveiled a streamlined version of its U.K. homepage, AOL.co.uk, that takes its lead from the company's recent revamp in the United States. Tesco and BlackBerry are launch advertisers, enjoying 100 percent share of voice in 'Project Devil' ad units - now known as Interactive Advertising Bureau Portrait ads.
Separately, the company has also signed major U.S. publisher partners to carry the IAB Portrait unit. While the ad format now enjoys status as an industry standard, AOL serves its components through its Pictela subsidiary.
The new partners are FoxNews.com, Meredith Corp., Variety, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, and Weather.com. AOL began serving the IAB Portrait on its own site in 2010, and on Hearst sites earlier this year. Seventy brands have run in the Portrait units.
AOL made the announcements at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, where five senior executives are staging a full-court press to engage the agency community. Jeff Levick, president of global advertising and strategy, described the event to ClickZ as "the most productive week of the year."
On stage yesterday, CEO Tim Armstrong and Chief of Content Arianna Huffington talked up the company's mission to "humanize" digital content and marketing. The good-humored culture clash between AOL and Huffington Post was on display, as Huffington (who famously insisted on having a nap room installed at AOL headquarters post-acquisition) called on the creative community to design a "GPS for the soul" that could help hyper-connected human beings navigate their inner lives.
The good vibes don't come naturally to AOL, which still grapples with a stodgy corporate culture despite new blood at the top. Her energy and cultural imprint are big factors in Armstrong's pursuit of Huffington and her namesake brand.
AOL U.K.'s beautification project comes as Huffington turns her attention to launching versions of The Huffington Post in foreign markets - what amounts to a return to overseas expansion after a significant retraction last year related to cost cutting.
HuffPo will launch a U.K. site July 6, and thereafter intends to roll out regional versions in France, Australia, Latin America, India, and Australia. Her aim is to launch 12 sites by year's end.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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