AOL Unveils A Mobile Video Network…But TV Is Still The Benchmark

UpfrontAt AOL’s annual programmatic upfront (now called the “Future Front”) Monday, its parent, Verizon, staged a showy coming-out party for a video content network called Go90.

Besides Go90’s official launch, Verizon revealed it had secured its first upfront commitment from agency holding company Publicis Groupe.

The deal has a couple of implications. On the content side, Publicis gets inducted into a new program called AOL Head Start, which gives it first access to test new features, creative and ad formats on the platform.

Publicis will also gain early access to unspecified targeting capabilities within Verizon and AOL’s data-management platform, which will become available in the first quarter of 2016.

“There’s still a process of figuring out how the data strategy comes together for better ad and content experiences,” AOL’s president of advertiser platforms, Don Kennedy, told AdExchanger. “Go90 is a premium product that’s content-led, but there’s a huge ad tech component to it when you start to think about how you can ingest that content into ONE by AOL and allow planning and buying in new environments.”

Seth Demsey, CTO for AOL Platforms, said Verizon’s data allows AOL to connect the narrow to the broad with the goal of having the most 360-degree view into a mobile consumer base.

“Social isn’t always what we do, think or buy,” Demsey said. “Verizon delivers the web, video and app data that paints the true portrait of our customers through things like age and location.” 

Brian Angiolet, SVP of consumer products for Verizon, said onstage at the upfront that Go90 caters to an elusive media segment – “cord nevers” who never used traditional broadcast or subscription TV services to begin with.

Go90 will feature video clips from partners like the NFL, Comedy Central, Viacom, Discovery and Scripps and tailor content and ads to millennials’ mobile tastes.

It will include a mashup of live-streamed events and concert footage, as well as short-form videos from some of the large multichannel video networks. Consumers can follow shows or channels they’re interested in similar to a social app.

“We’re not only talking about premium video content, but something that’s mobile and social and backed by data,” Kennedy said. “It’ll feature original content and curated experiences but with programmatic scale.”

Despite Go90’s focus on creating a mobile-first video network, Angiolet said brands still want metrics benchmarked against traditional TV – a goal that underpins the deal with Publicis.

Although Publicis agencies will buy digital pre- and mid-roll formats directly on Go90 with more programmatic functionality to follow, its investment resembles traditional upfront commitments.

“This is an open invitation to partner together on audience aggregation and branded integrations,” Angiolet told an audience of 2,000. “We will have new formats, targeting and data capabilities as a result of AOL and Verizon coming together.”


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