Tuesday, September 28, 2010

AOL’s Project Devil: New Web Ad Format Cuts Clutter, Aligns Contextual Multimedia

AOL is definitely on the right track with Project Devil, its just unveiled antidote to the ad cluttered webpage. Jeff Levick, AOL’s president of global advertising and strategy, says Project Devil aims to bring about a "fundamental redesign of the Web," that will give consumers a richer, better online experience, while giving brands a more effective and engaging platform for selling.

Indeed, the Devil ad format is a step up in terms of web aesthetics and usability. Until now the industry norm has been to pack webpages full of banner ads. Devil does the opposite, giving one advertiser a webpage's entire ad space.  

No doubt this approach will foster better ad-editorial alignment. In fact, advertisers will be able to enhance the editorial environment by placing contextual ads using video, slideshows, social networking and bookmarking features, news alerts, event live-streaming, crowdsharing, wiki, geo-social maps, and more. 

Case in point: JC Penney has done a great job stacking multimedia ads alongside a full-page of fashion editorial, starting on top with a mini catalog featuring several fall ensembles. Clicking on a look takes you to a dedicated page where the merchandise is shown up close and coordinated with other items. This sales page can be bookmarked, shared via email or Facebook, and of course items can be purchased online.

Below the catalog  is a panel that clicks to a “behind the scenes” video from a fashion photo shoot. The documentary-style narrative is relevant, appealing and it effectively legitimizes JC Penney's style authority. Beneath the video there are two more ad panels, one featuring the retailer's Facebook promotion and the other offering a special 15% discount. 

No question a cleaner looking web is a win-win for everybody: Consumers get better content, web editors get better context, and brands get to converge their marketing mix - print and TV ads, direct mail, e-commerce, social networking, PR, promotion, etc. - all on one page. Potent stuff!


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