New Opportunities for Advertisers on AOL

Posted by Jonathan Meyer, Associate Account Manager

With a new CEO, new design and new strategy, it’s time for search marketers to take a fresh look at advertising on AOL in 2010.  At Performics, we’ve been testing new opportunities on AOL and are optimistic about future opportunities.  Opportunities include AOL Sponsored Listings and the forthcoming AOL Paid Inclusion:

AOL Sponsored Listings

AOL Sponsored Listings allow advertisers to place text ads on selected sites that are part of the AOL network.  Premium sites include AOL Finance, Time, FOX News, ESPN, Engaget and Pheedo, which is a feed advertising network similar to Feedburner.  AOL Sponsored Listings enable advertisers to target specific sites, rather than advertise based on content, which is typical of the Google Content Network (GCN) or Yahoo! Content.  At Performics, we have seen strong impressions (several hundred thousand impressions per month at top levels) and click traffic from Sponsored Listings by optimizing bids per site in AOL’s system.  We have seen several programs achieve profitable (better than 1:1) ROIs.  Cost-per-clicks (CPCs) on the AOL network are also comparatively lower than other site targeting opportunities like the GCN and Yahoo! Content.  This is likely due to lower competition on AOL.  Opportunity also exists to optimize ROI further, comparing site performance against sales conversion data.

AOL Paid Inclusion

With the termination of Yahoo! SSP at the end of 2009, there exists a paid inclusion void in search that may be filled by AOL Paid Inclusion in the near future.  Although not yet concrete, AOL is looking to soon release more information around AOL Paid Inclusion, including pricing, features and benefits to advertisers.  This will likely be a feed-based program similar to Yahoo! SSP and will allow former Yahoo! SSP clients to mitigate potential sales losses from SSP’s termination.  Performics’ clients have successfully used Yahoo! SSP to index deep product pages, run promotions in natural search and grow sales.  Advertisers should plan on testing and optimizing their paid inclusion feeds once the new AOL product is on the market.

AOL’s current search market share is roughly 6%.  We recommend that advertisers test the new AOL in 2010 to make the best decisions of how to most efficiently and effectively allocate budget across the engines.

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