AOL Buys Rich Media Ad Firm Pictela, Extends Project Devil

AOL is acquiring rich media ad technology firm Pictela for an undisclosed sum, and also intends to roll out the super sized Project Devil ad units it revealed in September to all of its media properties by March 2011.

Pictela offers a range of rich media solutions, with a focus on high-definition video in expandable and large-scale ad units such as the OPA’s pushdown and fixed panel formats, not unlike the Project Devil ads.

Pictela will remain a separate entity within AOL’s advertising unit, and will retain its brand and staff in New York. It also claims it will continue to service outside partners, which have included major AOL rivals like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Glam Media. The company’s strengths to date have been in the consumer packaged goods and retail space, serving clients including Macy’s, Best Buy, Gillette, Target, and Kraft.

Commenting on the merger in a press release, Pictela CEO Greg Rogers said AOL will become “one of its biggest customers,” but added that its commitment to innovation in the display ad space would benefit both parties.

Following trials of its own super sized ad Project Devil ad formats this year, AOL now intends to roll them out across all of its media properties by March 2011. The company says its internal data show the units have been “greatly outperforming standard online ads,” and that by reducing page clutter the ads have encouraged higher user interaction rates.

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