AOL ramps up its premium ad pitch

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A year after acquiring high-end display advertising developer Pictela, AOL is ramping up distribution of its premium ad units across AOL’s Advertising.com network.

After a year of limited rollout – primarily across AOL-owned properties – for the large-format Pictela units and its own Project Devil rich media ad units, AOL is looking to triple the number of publishing partners supporting the units from 10 to 30 in the first quarter of 2012, according to Dave Jacobs, senior vice president of publisher services at AOL Advertising.

“We’ve been looking at this through the lens of how can we extend what we’ve been doing into a network environment,” Jacobs said in a phone interview. “The rollouts this year have been more as a proof of concept. Now we’re focused on providing scale.”

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has adopted the Pictela 970x90 expandable “pushdown” and the Devil 300x1050 “portrait” (right) as standard display ad units. The units include support for video and other rich media that users can interact with without leaving the publisher’s page. AOL has also been promoting e-commerce options for the units.

Advertisers have run about 200 campaigns with the premium ad units across a variety of properties. Jacobs said the ads are showing “extremely high engagement” as measured by time spent and clickthroughs. The CPMs aren’t too shabby either, averaging between $5 and $9 and in some cases hitting double digits, he said.

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