AOL expands its TV ad-buying tools

AOL is expanding its television efforts with the launch of self-serve TV ad-buying as part of its One by AOL platform.

AOL (which owns TechCrunch, and in turn is owned by Verizon) first announced its programmatic TV offering in 2014, allowing marketers to buy TV ads through AOL’s online system. As explained to me by Dan Ackerman, the company’s senior vice president of programmatic TV, AOL could already “crunch data and provide a tailored plan for the client,” but the actual ad buying process remained “largely manual” until now.

“When tools go from managed service to self-service, it’s an indication that ad buyers are becoming much more sophisticated and going beyond the testing phase,” Ackerman said. “In the U.S., I would still call it early days for programmatic TV, with greater adoption forthcoming as buyers grow familiar with the benefits.”

What about outside the United States? Well, Ackerman pointed to Australia, where AOL is working with TV ad company MCN, and where he said the amount of TV ad revenue sold programmatically (that is, sold through online systems in an automated, data-driven way) grew from 1 to 5 percent over the course of last year.

As for where these programmatic ads will actually be placed, Ackerman said AOL is working with “dozens” of national broadcast and cable TV networks to plug into their ad inventory. He suggested that a number of networks will be announcing programmatic capabilities soon.

Ackerman also pointed to a number of advantages that he said AOL can offer TV advertisers, including its data and ad-targeting capabilities, as well as “holistic” measurement, showing when TV ads leads to activity on other devices like smartphones and tablets.

Ad agency Omnicom Media Group will be the exclusive launch partner for One by AOL: TV self-service.