The programmatic and publishing deal struck between Aol and A+E Networks in early December was the first of its kind for both companies and highlights not only the potential efficiencies publishers can gain from consolidated, cross-platform ad management solutions, but also the need to develop additional tools to dynamically monitor demand and adjust pricing.
Under terms of the December deal, A+E Networks will use Aol’s programmatic platform, ONE by Aol, to target and deliver video and display ads across its digital properties and to deliver personalized content. A+E Networks will also buy Upfront inventory across Aol’s channels, including Huffington Post and TechCrunch. Aol did not reveal the scale of the upfront commitment by A+E, but it was something that made the deal “very meaningful,” according to Aol’s president of publisher platforms, Tim Mahlman.
Key to the deal from A+E Networks’ perspective was the single supply-side platform (SSP) solution that Aol offered by aggregating its publisher services into a one product. “We gave A+E a solution that allowed them to consolidate and only work with one partner. Instead of it being a tactical sell, it was more of a solutions sell,” said Mahlman.
Publishers will continue to drive the development of advanced and integrated ad platform models as they seek to generate maximum efficiency and revenue from their cross-platform inventory, Mahlman added. “Holistic yield optimization is something on the horizon that many I don’t think are hitting on just yet, but it could be a huge priority for publishers. This is where we think the industry is going.”
Holistic yield optimization would give a publisher the ability to analyze, in real time, the demand for inventory, giving them more control and transparency. It will also provide a way to optimize floor-based pricing more efficiently, he said. “Analyzing how you work with your SSP I think can go one step further.”
As a publisher, Mahlman asks hypothetically, “How can I get the analytics to describe whether or not [an advertiser’s] bid price … is truly my floor or, if I really look into it further, they were actually bidding at $15 for that video impression but it ended up selling for $13. I could have actually got $15 if I’d reset my floor prices.”
There’s no word on whether Aol is working on an in-house solution or planning a potential acquisition to add such an optimization component, but other capabilities could be added to the ONE product soon.
Future deals could bring Aol TV into the mix to offer linear and OTT television components, Mahlman suggested. Aol’s latest adtech acquisition, the mobile platform Millennial Media that was acquired in September, has also not so far been incorporated into the ONE product.
Mahlman said the deal with A+E Networks justifies the hundreds of millions of dollars Aol has spent in the last five years buying the seven adtech companies incorporated into the ONE product alongside the company’s in-house, display supply-side platform Marketplace.
Since 2010, Aol has acquired video syndication platform 5min Media, content marketing platform Pictela, creative optimization company Buysight, video ad platform Adap.tv, cross-channel attribution provider Convertro, content personalization platform Gravity and video management platform Vidible.
“Publishers need more in their arsenal, and our platform -- as seen through this deal -- offers them solutions,” said Mahlman.
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