“For example, we’re looking at Xbox and how we can incorporate gamification functionality that can be very contextual and complementary to that particular experience, but where maybe there’s also opportunities where we leverage the native feel of Skype,” Milano said. “We’ve been looking at creating some unique ad experiences that leverage Verizon data.”
Milano didn’t divulge what those unique experiences are, but said Verizon/AOL is in the process of running tests for products that remove friction from consumers’ mobile journeys.
The expanded ad formats on MSN point to more programmatic access to Microsoft’s offering. Before AOL entered the picture, MSN video inventory was largely direct sold. As for game console Xbox, sources said its inventory was virtually absent from the exchanges.
"One of the things we’ve focused on is integrating our tech stacks, so obviously we’ll be able to serve into a direct-sold [instance] but they’re also leveraging our ONE by AOL: Video product (formerly Adap.tv) to support some of the non-reserved inventory,” Milano said. “We’re definitely making that available more programmatically.”
AOL will help Microsoft maximize yield more programmatically across its properties and its unified sales team is responsible for MSN's direct reserved sales business. There is still a relationship with AppNexus for some of the non-reserved inventory and AOL expects to maintain an open relationship there.
Beyond the native ads and interactive video on MSN, AOL is also adding premium formats to Millennial Media’s network of 65,000 apps and claims it will expand in-app rich media by four times through a new integration with Twitter’s MoPub and Nexage (now part of ONE by AOL: Mobile).
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has referred to 2015 as AOL’s investment year, while 2016 will be about execution and uniting some of its key acquisitions.
“Some of the things we’re doing now from a product standpoint are starting to thread some of those investments together,” Milano added. “We have a lot of great formats we’ll be able to scale across Microsoft and Millennial, as well as through the MoPub and Nexage integrations.”