AOL Primes A Programmatic Creative Platform

CreativeAOL has packaged a number of its creative point solutions into a single platform called ONE by AOL: Creative, which the company revealed Tuesday.

The self-serve banner, video and mobile ad creator was built on the back of Pictela, a rich media tool AOL acquired in 2010, which provided templates for marketers to create custom, responsive cross-screen units. The intent is to allow marketers to build a creative asset in and push that ad out to the most relevant person programmatically.

“You have more opportunity to use more data in your creative, instead of just when you’re selecting audience segments when you’re buying media,” said Seth Demsey, CTO for AOL Platforms.

For instance, if a media planner wanted to leverage specific assets tailored to women aged 25-34, ONE would let you to build custom rules around those segments and determine which elements are most engaging “based on the data from our DSP or overall performance data we’re starting to see through ONE,” Demsey added.

The rollout comes as the challenge of creativity in programmatic is getting more attention. Google has over the past two years brought more tools to automate ad production, and agencies and ad platforms have begun to position as solutions to the limitations of programmatic creative.

Demsey said that even marketers who opt to use non-AOL DSPs and ad servers could reap the benefits of its creative platform data.

Pictela serves as the basis of ONE, but it’s also tapping personalization and dynamic retargeting capabilities courtesy of AOL’s acquisition of the technology platform Buysight three years ago.

Work was previously underway to integrate Pictela with Buysight, which Demsey said enriched the former with more functionality around feed ingestion and product catalogs.

AOL began a complete rebuild of all creative templates 18 months ago to support new advancements in HTML5 and other browser- or device-based requirements.

“The time it took to generate even an A/B test was staggering because of the sheer volume of creative marketers have access to,” said David Miller, VP of advertising product management for AOL. “We asked ourselves, ‘How do we pull in all kinds of custom assets in the ONE platform ecosystem where we can easily push it out to ad servers and DSPs?’”

A marketer can redistribute assets managed in AOL’s platform through a third-party ad server, but Demsey reiterated that it is not an editing tool, technically speaking.

“We help augment video assets with tracking, HTML5 overlays and layer in interactive features on top of the data element, but there are plenty of good video-editing platforms out there,” he said.

Most marketers are not dicing down 30-second TV spots for cross-screen video ads, but the option is there if needed.

Demsey said AOL built video transcoding into the creative platform to address some of the common challenges around altering a commercial file size or pixelation, but for the most part the platform is designed for “more bespoke spots for digital delivery.”

AOL will launch ONE first in the US, UK and Canada with further expansion in the months to come. AOL declined to share how many customers were testing its creative platform, but said a number of large advertising customers including Toyota are already using it.

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