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September 17, 2015

AOL Ad Platform Adds Machine Learning

One-time online juggernaut AOL is expanding its digital advertising platform to incorporate analytics with the goal of marrying machine learning with ad design to gauge the success of targeted advertising across different formats and platforms.

AOL, which became a subsidiary of telecom giant Verizon in June, said this week that expansion of its “One Creative” automation platform is designed to help advertisers evaluate the performance of targeted ads in different formats, screens and devices. The platform leverages real-time behavioral and engagement data to automatically customize digital ads.

AOL’s machine-learning platform would not replace humans in the creative process, the company stressed, but rather would “empower” agencies with data and automation to make targeted pitches more effective.

AOL estimates that marketers spend about 30 percent of their digital ad budgets on creative production costs along with several days each week on designing and adjusting digital ad content. Hence, the platform generates “multi-variate premium cross-screen formats” designed to adapt to different screen sizes and mobile devices.

An analytics feature is designed to customize targeted ads using audience and custom data sets on the new platform. AOL also claimed the tool can help find and target the appropriate audiences at the right time as well as scale across different formats, inventories or screens.

Customers are increasingly looking for feedback on digital advertising campaigns beyond page impressions, views and clicks. Hence, AOL is positioning its data-driven platform as offering detailed reporting on the impact of digital ads, including how much revenue was generated on the investment in a specific piece of creative content.

Among AOL customers for the digital ad platform are automotive technology supplier CDK Global, the U.S. arm of Japanese automaker Toyota and L’Oreal Paris. Toyota, for example, is using the AOL platform to distribute “data-driven content” on its new hydrogen-powered Mirai passenger car along with hydrogen fuel as an alternative energy source.

In July, AOL announced the global expansion of its platform into video along with the introduction of five new linear video ad formats.

The “One by AOL: Creative” platform is available now to AOL customers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The Verizon subsidiary said the platform would be rolled out in other international markets in the coming months.

The AOL advertising analytics play is among the most recent efforts to harness customer data for use in targeted digital advertising. In some cases, large retailers are acquiring intelligent digital ad specialists to boost their internal marketing efforts. In April 2014, giant U.K. retailer Tesco’s online ad unit Dunnhumby Ltd. acquired Berlin-based digital ad technology developer and e-commerce specialist Sociomantic Labs GmbH. Tesco is a pioneer in collecting customer data via store loyalty cards and online purchases.

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