AOL Introduces New 'All-in-One' Platform for Publishers

Run of Acquisitions Baked Into New Platform

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AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Credit: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

AOL has consolidated six technologies for publishers that had been only available separately into a new offering called One by AOL: Publishers.

The individual technologies have 75,000 publishers as clients among them, according to AOL.

"All those technologies had been running as different business units," said Tim Mahlman, president-publisher platforms at AOL. "We had six different products with six different sales reps talking to the exact same publisher, but not telling the whole AOL story."

The move was announced Monday at the Interactive Advertising Bureau Leadership Summit in Palm Desert, Calif.

For AOL, the new platform means it can cut down on sales reps, offer one pricing model instead of six, and only require one master service agreement, or MSA, that is requried to be signed by publishers, Mr. Mahlman said.

Such supply-side platforms, or SSPs, are used by publishers to sell advertising inventory on their websites to advertisers. They are also necessary to do business in the programmatic advertising space. AOL says its new platform includes many of the acquisitions it has made over the years for its SSP offerings at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Much of the One by AOL: Publishers' creation rested on the company's acquisition of Millennial Media, which it acquired in September of last year for $238 million, Mr. Mahlman said. Millennial Media offers publishers technology to advertise within mobile apps, a crucial capability if AOL is to compete with Google, Facebook or Yahoo. About 85% of consumers' time on smartphones is spent within mobile apps and not the web browser, according to Forrester.

Prior to Millennial Media, AOL had a strong programmatic stack that it had built and acquired, but it was lacking in mobile. "Millennial Media was the last piece to really make the whole AOL story complete," Mr. Mahlman said. "With Millennial coming on board, it was clear we were making a strong push to mobile."

The company also announced Monday on its blog that it has acquired AdelphD. Terms of that deal were not disclosed. AdelphD gives publishers perspective on what their inventory could be worth by offering historical data on what ads had previously sold for. That technology will likely be rolled into AOL's new SSP platform, a source familiar with the deal said.