IPG's Mediabrands and AOL Partner to Re-Invent Digital Retail Advertising

Partnership Leverages Combined Assets of IPG Mediabrands, AOL and Input from Leading Retailers

New York, NY – June 21, 2010 – Interpublic Group's (NYSE: IPG) Mediabrands and AOL (NYSE: AOL) today announced, at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, a partnership to create sophisticated online and technology solutions for both consumers and retail marketers. The goal of the partnership is to provide shoppers with an effective online approach to make more informed store and brand choices, plus provide retail marketers with advanced insights allowing them to present optimal product selections to customers in customized formats. To activate this partnership, Mediabrands and AOL plan to align collective resources and announce a Retail Advisory Board in the coming weeks. IPG is one of the largest buyers of retail advertising in the U.S. and AOL is known for its engaged audience of more than 100 million users.

"Mediabrands partners with top retail and CPG brands, and we are committed to investing in resources to develop innovative retail solutions beyond what currently exist in the marketplace today," said Bant Breen, President, Worldwide Digital Communications, Initiative. "AOL has a substantial audience of engaged shoppers that can provide critical insights into what consumers need to enrich their online retail experience. Those same insights can also help marketers create a consistent consumer experience with the local retail store. By partnering with AOL, we can leverage our collective assets in retail, consumer insights and hyper-local to re-invent the category."

There are two initial phases of the partnership:

A detailed analysis of the pre-shopping experience organized through the lens of the shopper completed by the IPG Lab, the research and development division of Mediabrands. The Lab's proprietary Neural Shopping Matrix methodology reveals the factors that influence shoppers' decision making and helps determine which retail advertising elements yield the greatest impact. Through a recent study, the Lab discovered that the modern consumer conducts pre-shopping research for nearly all products and not solely on highly considered or high priced purchases.

Two initial findings of the new customized retail research:

  • Shoppers seek comparative pricing and feature comparison options, coupon integration, store locations, and more from their pre-shopping research.
  • Shoppers are interested in an online product that blends the convenience of having all the deals, sales and special offers in one place, like the traditional insert, combined with the ability to cross-reference multiple sources.

"Consumers' needs evolve on a daily basis, and through the explosion of technology, their shopping habits have been radically altered. In order to help retailers navigate these dynamics, we must look at that constant shift through the lens of the shopper," said John Ross, President of the Lab. "Increasingly, retailers want to replicate the sustained effects of newspaper advertising through other mediums. Together with AOL, we want to identify important trends and help retail marketers improve return on their collective retail marketing efforts."

Responding to these findings, Erin Clift, Senior Vice President of Global Sales at AOL said, "Clearly, shoppers' needs have evolved faster than the advertising technology. By utilizing our collective resources, we can re-invent retail pre-shopping online, and work to create a more efficient and effective solution for retailers. The new model for retail advertising will combine the best of digital and the best of traditional media into an online retail experience, addressing consumer wants such as comparative pricing, coupon integration, feature comparisons and more."

AOL and Mediabrands will leverage research insights to create a new online pre-shopping program that will be tested with key retailers throughout Q3 and Q4 2010. The program will include five leading retail partners, and success will be measured against the creation of user training, in-store sales lift and the effectiveness of new advertising formats. Geomentum, the hyper-local division of Mediabrands, will help track sales results at the store level, and AOL will leverage its media properties to execute a consumer-driven experience throughout the summer.

The companies plan to expand the partnership to create new solutions in Hyper-Local Marketing by leveraging Mediabrands' Geomentum, a $2 billion local advertising agency, and AOL's hyper-local platform.

About Interpublic
Interpublic is one of the world's leading organizations of advertising agencies and marketing services companies. Major global brands include Draftfcb, FutureBrand, GolinHarris International, Initiative, Jack Morton Worldwide, Lowe Worldwide, Magna, McCann Erickson, Momentum, MRM Worldwide, Octagon, Universal McCann and Weber Shandwick. Leading domestic brands include Campbell-Ewald; Campbell Mithun; Carmichael Lynch; Deutsch, a Lowe & Partners Company; Hill Holliday; Mullen; The Martin Agency and R/GA. For more information, please visit www.interpublic.com.

About Mediabrands
Created by IPG to manage all of its global media-related assets, Mediabrands employs 6,500 communications specialists operating in 90 countries and manages $32B in global media billings. It is a proven entity in helping clients maximize the impact of their marketing investment to deliver explosive business results. Mediabrands enhances the communications offering and performance across its network of media agencies including Initiative, UM, MAGNA and a roster of specialty service groups. Mediabrands is part of Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG), one of the world's leading organizations of advertising agencies and marketing services companies. For more information, please visit www.mediabrands.com

About AOL
AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is a leading global web services company with an extensive suite of brands and offerings and a substantial worldwide audience. AOL's business spans online content, products and services that the company offers to consumers, publishers and advertisers. AOL is focused on attracting and engaging consumers and providing valuable online advertising services on both AOL's owned and operated properties and third-party websites. In addition, AOL operates one of the largest Internet subscription access services in the United States, which serves as a valuable distribution channel for AOL's consumer offerings.

Press Contacts:
Caroline Campbell, AOL
Phone: 917-606-4772
Cell: 404-444-7970
Email: c.campbell@corp.aol.com

Joe Benarroch, Mediabrands
Phone: 212-313-5803
Cell: 773-405-1252
Email: joe.benarroch@mediabrandsww.com

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