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Stephen Logan

AOL to Develop Larger Display Ads in Profits Push

4th May 2011 SEO 2 minutes to read

Bigger isn’t always better, particularly where on-page display advertising is concerned. However, AOL is looking to test this logic. In fact, they’re banking on supersized adverts to prop up flagging advertising income.

Working in collaboration with publishing giant Hearst Corp, AOL will deliver vast interactive adverts to a range of online titles – including Esquire and Cosmopolitan – as well as their own sites. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the new advertising format will include a range of interactive features, such as videos, polls and even games. This allows users to access the content without navigating away from the actual page – pretty clever stuff.

Unfortunately, as this is an entirely new format, many advertisers are reluctant to create bespoke campaigns purely for use through AOL; particularly as both Google and Yahoo are developing their own standardised ad size. However, with Hearst on board, AOL may be able to develop a little added interest.

As evidenced by their recent push for content, AOL is keen to get its display ads seen (and clicked on) as often as possible [see: Huffington Post to Join the AOL Content Farm]. Following the 14% year on year downturn in display advertising income, a major increase in impressions is vital; particularly if the company is to halt its dramatic revenue slide – 26% in Q4 [figures courtesy of TechCrunch: AOL’s Q4 2010: Revenues Dropped 26 Percent YoY, Beat Expectations].

With the Q1 earnings to be announced shortly [see: Earnings Preview: AOL to issue 1Q results | Business Week], AOL – like Yahoo and many others – need to start showing shoots of recovery. The company has invested heavily in an entirely new business philosophy, buying up popular news sites such as TechCrunch and the Huffington Post in a major content push.

This hasn’t come cheap either, therefore AOL has to find ongoing strategies that will help to solidify these investments and ensure that they return profits. Inevitably, these jumbo ads will form a – excusing the pun – large part of this ongoing development. Whether the size will deter or encourage site owners (or visitors) is unknown; however, few would argue that they don’t attract attention.

Whilst this probably won’t cause too much consternation at Google HQ, the fact that AOL has developed its own display ad format will raise eyebrows. Whether advertisers will rush to create their own unique adverts just for use through AOL though remains to be seen.

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