AOL Pushes New Devil Units for Specific Brand Verticals

aol-devil2AOL is rolling out the first major update to its Project Devil initiative today. With Project Devil 2, the company will put less emphasis on the ad format and more effort into how ads can be transformed to solve brand problems, said Sanjay Jain, CTO and co-founder at Pictela, a company AOL acquired in 2010. The company also said its Devil ads can be delivered to around 100 publisher sites.

“There’s different types of problems and different types of campaign goals that we can solve with our ad units,” Jain told ClickZ. “We built Project Devil, but one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. The approach we’re taking now is what problem can we solve using essentially one-third of the page.”

Project Devil 2 features templates with applications tailored to specific verticals like retail, entertainment, consumer-packaged goods, finance, automotive and travel. A 300×1050 ad unit features space for two applications to run concurrently while a smaller 300×600 unit features one application.

The template for entertainment brands dedicates two-thirds of the ad’s real estate to high-definition video, for example. In the retail category, AOL can now feature full catalogs from retailers in their ad space.

AOL’s goal is to “draw upon science and campaign specifics for vertical-specific needs,” Jain said.

The company continues to innovate on Project Devil and the Pictela platform in the hopes of boosting revenues from brand advertisers. In June, AOL pushed its Pictela platform across multiple screens by launching a series of premium ad formats for mobile devices and tablets.

Internal AOL data from the first half of the year indicates that the average interaction time came in at 24 seconds.

“In terms of reach, we are focusing a lot on making Project Devil a solution for the Internet and not something that’s AOL owned and operated specific,” Jain said. “Through the devil network, we have the ability now to serve to about 100 publishers.”

AOL has also updated the Pictela Management System with new creative tools for agencies and publishers, and said it plans to push its Pictela Enterprise platform out of beta by the end of the year.