Original Content, Digital Video Take Center Stage At AOL NewFront

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AOLAOL CEO Tim Armstrong addressed a crowd of close to 2,000 media buyers at its NewFront Tuesday night with an exuberant, “tonight is about connecting content with distribution.” It’s clear, with AOL, that much of that connection will happen through video.

Ran Harnevo, president of AOL Video, talked up digital video and its intent to provide “one platform for premium content.” He added: “TV and video will become one…[we will be the] platform for creating, curating, programming, distributing and monetizing content.”

Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL Brand Group, said “the power of video to engage an audience is what drew us to television in the first place.” She referenced AOL’s recent homepage re-do and introduction of always-on video programming from the company and its content partners.

Measurement was also a focal point. AOL and Nielsen took the stage together to announce a beta test of gross ratings points (GRP) metrics to measure audience reach for all of AOL’s 16 original series.

AOL positioned this as an extension of Nielsen Digital Program Ratings, designed to measure the online impact of televised content. (Yahoo Monday night touted measurement, too, at its NewFront when it announced an integration of comScore validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) metrics with Yahoo’s ad server for video, mobile and display).

“In 2009, we were…the new kid on the block,” Armstrong went on. “Now we feel we are at the forefront of video.”

Reality star Nicole Richie, who headlines AOL Original program “Candidly Nicole,” joined AOL Platforms CEO Bob Lord onstage and gave scripted lip service to automated buying: “I hear programmatic buying seems to be the shit right now, so tell me all about it.”

This was Lord’s cue to reaffirm AOL’s commitment to programmatic, noting that all AOL Originals, such as Candidly Nicole, and reserve inventory “will be available programmatically via Adap.tv.” This follows AOL’s announcing at its inaugural “Programmatic Upfront” last fall that it would make premium reserved, guaranteed inventory available in an automated fashion.

AOL closed the night heralding new ad sponsorships from DigitasLBi for two original programs: long-form documentary series “Connected,” which Sprint will exclusively sponsor, and “My Hero,” starring Zoe Saldana, the rights to which were purchased by DigitasLBI.

 

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