AOL Inks Deal With NBCUniversal, Pursues Perpetual Video

AOLvideoFifty-four stories above New York’s World Trade Center site, 800 media planners gathered Tuesday evening for AOL’s annual advertiser NewFront. The big “reveal” was a new video content and distribution agreement with broadcaster NBCUniversal.

Starting this summer, select NBCUniversal videos from network partners Bravo, CNBC, E!, MSNBC, NBC, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo and USA will be syndicated to AOL’s video platform, AOL On, on desktop and mobile, as well as the AOL On app on 16 over-the-top devices including Roku and Chromecast.

“Audiences will be able to see content from ‘The Blacklist’ and … ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ across all [AOL] owned and operated properties,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairwoman of ad sales and client partnerships for NBC Universal. “We think the appetite for consumer experiences will continue to shift toward OTT.”

In addition to the NBC partnership, AOL spent two hours parading its video talent in front of brand reps and media planners, including AOL Original titles like Emmy-nominated “Park Bench with Steve Buscemi” and “Making a Scene with James Franco.” AOL now averages 66 million monthly unique viewers for online video, according to the latest comScore figures.

“Last year we produced 80 pieces of original video content, and this year we intend to produce upward of 3,600 pieces,” AOL global head of media sales Jim Norton told AdExchanger. “We’re moving from producing and selling a season or a slate of programs into a mode of constantly producing original, premium content year-round.”

In order to reach a critical mass in video volume, Norton said AOL will continue to partner with publishers like New York Yankee alumnus Derek Jeter’s Players’ Tribune to produce “sharable, snackable and mobile” video formats, as well as a format it’s calling “all-screen storytelling,” its slate of originals with distribution across 200 premium publishers and “big-screen streaming,” longer-form content conducive to OTT streaming. 

“While we’ve made a lot of investment into programmatic with the launch of the AOL One platform, you may at different points see us make more investment into the content or culture side of the business,” Norton said. “When we’re talking to a brand as a sales organization, they may be looking for performance through the platform and other times, they may want to tell a brand story. … We want to enable both.”

AOL recently restructured its sales organization and made significant changes to the AOL Video business. Last fall, it poached Viacom’s head of connected content, Dermot McCormack, to oversee the development of original video content and new live video formats including morning show “AOL Rise,” tailored for short, two-minute mobile video clips.

“The device has become the new daypart,” Norton added. “We took a very hard look at how people consume videos throughout the day based on the device they’re using.”

Unsurprisingly, AOL says commuters like mobile-friendly, short and consumable content. In the afternoon, it is desktop-driven. At night, it’s seeing a lot of “companion watching through tablet and OTT devices,” Norton said.

One night earlier at Yahoo’s annual NewFront, where it, too, talked up live streaming and original content, CEO Marissa Mayer framed video as “display 2.0.”

A big focus was on the 63 million monthly uniques Yahoo drives to its slate of “digital magazines,” which it claims outperforms the combined reach of traditional magazine’s print and digital offerings, as well as live-streaming concerts and music festivals through its partnership with Live Nation and new original program, “Ultimate DJ.”

Yahoo took a decidedly less “device-specific” approach and, instead, focused on its inherent targetability of video audiences via programmatic exchange BrightRoll and video ad formats through Tumblr and native platform Yahoo Gemini.

“Let us put our data to work for you,” Mayer said, claiming access to 1 billion global users and 150 billion daily activities on Yahoo properties between site search, email and mobile app usage with its acquisition of Flurry.

 

 

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