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World-Class Brands Line Up Behind AOL's New Innovative Format In Display Advertising

Sep 27, 2010

Leading Creative and Industry Icons Work Together with AOL to Re-Imagine Relationship between Online Advertising, Creativity and Content

Research Shows Project Devil Ads Outperform Standard Display Ads in Consumer Likeability and Ad Effectiveness Metrics

NEW YORK, NY – September 27, 2010 – AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) announced today that seven of the world's leading consumer brands have signed on as founding partners for AOL's new display advertising format. The new "Project Devil" ad system, designed and developed with creative input from some of the most well-known and respected people and agencies in the advertising industry, radically improves the aesthetic quality, impact and interactivity of online ads in ways that better promote the beauty of advertising and significantly enhance the consumer experience.

Founding partners include General Mills brands Cheerios® and Pillsbury® Crescents, Lexus, Macy's, Procter & Gamble's Olay, Sprint, and Unilever's Suave Professionals.

"We're incredibly excited that such a stellar lineup of world-class brands are as enthusiastic as we are about Project Devil and the creative evolution of the Internet that it represents. Our partners see that, more than just a new ad unit, this is a re-imagining of the intersection between content, advertising and the consumer experience," said Tim Armstrong, AOL's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Project Devil addresses the traditional limitations of online advertising head on to create ads that look better and work better for agencies and advertisers. It raises the standard for publishers and advertisers to improve the experience for consumers, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive."

The new Project Devil ad format will launch September 27 at the start of Advertising Week 2010 on AOL's and before rolling out across other AOL properties. In a departure from traditional display advertising, the new format offers a large ad space segmented into interactive panels, allowing advertisers to customize different streams of functionality within one interface. With one large, visually striking ad per page, Project Devil eliminates distractions and clutter to streamline consumer focus and guarantees 100% share-of-voice to the advertiser. The result is a canvas that allows for optimal expression of creativity, customizable usability and a consistent, engaging and beautiful experience for users.

Within the unit, there are three panels that can be customized with media streams and applications including video, slideshows, mapping, 3-D rotation, quizzes, polls, text messaging and other options. Every ad is fully interactive, eliminating the need for consumers to navigate away from the page to explore its features.

"Devil changes the ad model from interrupt to interact," said Amanda Richman, EVP, Managing Director at MediaVest. "Instead of competing with content and attempting to divert the user's attention, these ads become part of the content experience."Creative Consortium for New Aesthetic Standards in Online Advertising
Project Devil was developed over six months in partnership with the Creative Consortium, a group of top innovators from leading digital and creative agencies across the industry guided by the shared desire to create a new aesthetic standard for online advertising. AOL incorporated the Consortium's feedback and ideas into the design and development of Project Devil, which will continue to evolve as a new system for display advertising.

"Fundamentally, display advertising had not evolved a great deal over the past decade. Project Devil re-imagines not only the look and feel of display advertising but also its place on the page," said Barry Wacksman, EVP and Chief Growth Officer of R/GA, and a member of the Creative Consortium. "There is a great opportunity for creative liberty with this canvas and it represents the first phase of the next iteration of online display advertising."

Other members of the Creative Consortium include:
• Ben Palmer, CEO and Co-founder of the Barbarian Group
• Shenan Reed, Managing Director and Founder of Morpheus Media
• Matt Seiler, CEO of Universal McCann
• Darren Herman, Chief Digital Media Officer of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners
• Dani Nadel, President, Publicis Modem USA
• Nancy Hill, President and CEO, 4A's

Early Quantitative Research Validates Devil System: Users 18% More Engaged
To study the effect of Devil ads, comScore conducted pre-launch quantitative research that was fielded to 1,500 participants.

The study reveals that Project Devil ads on Web pages lift overall user engagement; consumers spend an average of 18% more time on the page when a Devil ad is present versus when a standard 300X250 ad is present.

As expected, greater engagement and larger ad size helps advertisers deliver more effective communication: 65% of respondents rated Devil ads as "easier to understand" and 77% felt the ad "gave more new information." The cumulative effect is that advertisers can make a greater brand impact with Devil ads: 63% said that Devil ads "made me feel better about the brand" while 68% said the ads "made me want to buy the brand."

Countering the intuition that larger ads are automatically more intrusive, 61% of respondents in the study felt that a Web page is "more visually appealing" when the Devil ad appears. Fifty-eight percent said that the Devil ad "made the overall Web page better."

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.

Media Contact:

Caroline Campbell
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