American Family Insurance Works With AOL For VR Series And 360 Video Ads

What Happened
American Family Insurance (AFI) is teaming up with AOL for a first-of-its-kind partnership that dives into immersive branded content. AFI will be working with AOL’s Partner Studio and HuffPost RYOT to develop a three-part, branded VR series on inspiring dream-chasers, 360-degree video ads that will be served across AOL’s ad network, as well as research on new metrics for 360 and VR video engagement.

What Brands Should Do
This partnership marks a big step for AOL as it looks to build a leading content creation platform for brands. And AFI is smart to leverage the power of VR and 360-degree content to tell inspirational stories that are tied to its brand message. As VR and 360-degree content continue to gain traction among consumers and publishers, brands need to start working with content creators to craft narratives that engage and resonate with their audiences.

The Lab currently has four VR headsets — an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, and two Samsung Gear VRs — ready for demos. Virtual reality is something that has to be experienced to be understood, so come by the Lab and ask for a VR demo to get a hands-on experience and figure out how your brand can use it to excite and engage with consumers.


Source: BusinessWire

More Media Companies Invest In VR And AR Tech

What Happened
As virtual reality and augmented reality technology quickly advance, a number of established media companies are jumping on the bandwagon and trying their hands at creating immersive content and integrating it into their media and ad products.

On Tuesday, HBO and Discovery Communications announced that they have taken equity stakes in OTOY, an L.A.-based startup that specializes in 3D graphics. The two companies plan to work with OTOY to develop and distribute original holographic content across their media properties, including TV, mobile, and even virtual reality devices. In fact, OTOY has already started working with Jon Stewart to create short-form content for HBO Now, the standalone OTT subscription service HBO launched last year.

Similarly, AOL announced earlier today it is acquiring virtual reality and 360-degree video startup RYOT for an undisclosed amount. RYOT will form a new VR content unit under AOL’s The Huffington Post and will also work with other AOL-owned publications such as TechCrunch, Engadget, and Autoblog to create branded content for AOL’s ad clients.

What Brands Need To Do
With more and more media owners starting to invest in VR and AR and honing their skills in producing immersive content, they offer brands more opportunities to create new types of branded content to engage their audiences with. Although virtual reality may still be a few years away from mass adoption (as we predicted in the 2020 section in our Outlook 2016), brands looking to stay ahead of the innovation curve would be smart to start developing their own branded VR content today.


Source: WSJ and Variety

AOL Offers A Brand-Friendly Live-Streaming Platform

What Happened
AOL acquired photo-editing app Kanvas last August and pivoted it to a live-streaming platform two months later. The live-streaming platform offers brand-friendly features such as animated, branded GIFs, branded filters, and branded live streams. Last December, clothing brand Guess became the first brand to use Kanvas to live-stream a sponsored event to promote its #GuessAllAccess campaign. Kanvas currently boasts around 3.5 million registered users and plans to attract more by expanding its in-house live coverage of popular events and music festivals.

What Brands Need To Do
With Facebook launching the Live API to allow live broadcasting from any device, live-streaming is set to hit full swing as publishers and content creators rush to Facebook and Twitter’s Periscope to try it out. Besides those two leading live-streaming platforms, however, brands should be aware of the other options available such as Kanvas and YouNow. Despite their relatively smaller audience sizes, these platforms seem to be more willing to collaborate with brands and offer customizable support for branded live-streams that is currently absent from Facebook Live and Periscope.


Source: DIgiday

AOL Introduces Two New Video Ad Formats To Enhance Viewability

What Happened
AOL is introducing two new video ad products to round out ONE by AOL, the ad platform it launched for publishers earlier this year. Out-stream Player is an in-article video format that only plays while at least half of the video is visible on the screen. Designed to ensure viewability, this ad formats expands while playing and pauses whenever less than 50% of the video is in view. The other new ad format SideView allows publishers to pin their videos in the sidebar and automatically resizes the video player according to browser size.

What Brands Need To Do
These two new video formats from AOL point to a way that video ads can be less interruptive and better integrated into the general user experience without sacrificing viewability. Brands should work with their agencies to make sure their video ads is deployed with the most effective formats.

Source: AdWeek

A+E Networks Embraces Programmatic With AOL Deal

What Happened
A+E Networks has struck a deal with AOL that will allow the Disney and Hearst-co-owned networks to use AOL’s programmatic ad platform and other digital publisher solutions. A+E will use AOL’s programmatic platform, ONE by AOL, for display and video ads on its digital properties. They will also use Gravity, AOL’s content recommendation engine for personalized content and ads, on The deal, however, does not include a TV component at the moment. A+E Networks has agreed to an upfront ad commitment across AOL’s properties including Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Moviefone, and Microsoft’s Xbox.

What Brands Need To Do
This wide-ranging deal includes video, display and personalization elements, and A+E is expected to leverage AOL’s great host content outlets to push for awareness and use their first-party data for improved targeting. Digital advertising continues to move towards programmatic as the platforms and ad tech mature, and this deal shows that the media owners are also fully embracing programmatic ads. Therefore, brands would be wise to consider trying new programmatic solutions to keep up with the industry and achieve improved ad effectiveness through automation.

Source: AdWeek

Verizon To Share Its “Supercookie” Data With AOL For Ad Targeting

What Happened
When news broke back in May that Verizon acquired AOL for a whopping $4.4 billion, we made an educated guess that the telecom giant must be after AOL’s impressive arsenal of ad technologies and platforms. This has been proven correct today as Verizon is now reportedly going to combine data from its “supercookie” — a Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) cookie that tracks Verizon’s mobile users — with AOL’s expansive ad network for better mobile targeting. Also, about a month ago, AOL quietly acquired mobile ad platform Millennial Media, which marked Verizon’s official entry into mobile advertising business.

What Brands Need To Do
By adding its supercookie data into the mix, Verizon is aiming to up its ad targeting capability and appeal to mobile advertisers. While Verizon’s use of supercookie has been controversial, there will likely be improved targeting tools for brands and marketers can use to provide a better, more personalized ad experience. Verizon also says in their privacy docs that they will use the data for its new ad-supported video service, Go90, offering brands another way to reach today’s mobile-first audience.


Source: Marketing Land

AOL Buys Millennial Media For Better Mobile Ads

What Happened
AOL announced on Thursday morning that it is acquiring mobile ad platform Millennial Media for $238 million, granting the now Verizon-owned ad tech and content company greater programmatic reach into mobile ads.

What Brands Should Do
This acquisition marks Verizon’s official entry into mobile advertising business, something the company was unable to achieve on its own. As more and more consumers get online through mobile devices, so does the ad spending shifts to mobile. According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending will surpass PC spending by the end of this year, reaching just over $30 billion. Therefore, brands and marketers alike need to keep up with the trend, be mindful of new players in this fast expanding space, and adjust their ad spending accordingly.


Source: TechCrunch

Why Verizon Is Launching Its Own Streaming Service Go90

What Happened
Verizon is reportedly getting ready to launch its own mobile-first, video streaming service named Go90 this summer, which will allow users to stream full episodes of TV shows from selected networks as well as music videos and other short-form content. Sources claim that Verizon will offer the service entirely free of charge, at least initially. Some of the content that Verizon gained through the recent AOL acquisition will also be added to the service.

What Brands Should Do
Verizon has long been making good use of the vast amount of consumer data gathered through its wireless service., including app usage and web browsing habits. That, coupled with the ad tech that AOL owns, could offer brands strong ad targeting tools on Go90’s ad-supported platform. Admittedly, it may be too early to tell if Go90 will be able to attract enough users that warrants brands’ attention. Nethertheless, brands need to be mindful of the great advertising potential it has.


Source: Variety

Microsoft Trims Non-Core Units As Silicon Valley Consolidates

This week, Microsoft spun off two units unessential to its core business to the companies that could really use them. First, it sold off Bing’s mapping assets to Uber, who will also absorb around 100 Microsoft employers, among which many are specific-focus engineers who worked to get image data into Bing. Besides reiterating the importance of mapping tech, this acquisition signals Uber’s vast ambitions in possibly incorporating Bing’s 3D, aerial and street footage into its own data assets.

Moreover, Microsoft also announced yesterday that AOL will soon take over display ad sales for Microsoft, which includes mobile and video ads, in U.S., U.K., and 7 other global markets. Microsoft will continue to have display ads on various properties ranging from Skype to Xbox, but AOL, which just recently got acquired by Verizon for a whopping $4.4 billion, will be handling those ad sales instead. As part of the 10-year deal, AOL will replace Google with Bing on its digital assets for search and search advertising, starting Jan. 1st, 2016. This marks a significant gain for Bing, which recently passed the 20% market share in the States.

Why Verizon Acquired AOL For $4.4 Billion

Read original story on: Re/code

Verizon, the second biggest telecom company in the States, has acquired mass media conglomerate AOL for a whopping $4.4 billon. Verizon is expecting the deal to be close by the end of summer, which will hopefully help with its “video and OTT strategy”.

AOL currently consists of two main business operations: the digital media properties that includes sites like Huffington Post and TechCrunch, and the ad tech platform that it has been rapidly developing in recent years. Given that AOL is already in talks with German media company Axel Springer to spin off its Huffington Post content unit, it is safe to conclude that AOL’s ad tech platform, especially video ad units, are what Verizon is really after.

With this acquisition, Verizon officially enters the media and ad tech sectors, which would give it a triple-screen opportunity to reach consumers across desktop, mobile, and television, helping the mobile network operator to tap into bountiful potential as the media market shifts towards digital content and targeted advertising.