LAS VEGAS – AOL will continue its mobile first push in the first quarter of 2016 with a string of announcements related to data-driven ad catering and customized on-device offerings.
“The two buckets, data and on device, are the things that you’re going to hear us talk a lot about in the coming months,” AOL’s global head of mobile Chad Gallagher said in a Wednesday morning interview.
According to Gallagher, AOL is working on a way to distill its own data, as well as that gathered from Verizon, MapQuest, Millennial, to allow advertisers to reach very specific mobile audiences.
Gallagher said this ad catering has the potential to let advertisers reach consumers not just based on preferences but also based on location.
With targeted advertising, Gallagher said the goal is to stop shoehorning desktop and TV ads into mobile and create personalized – and relevant – ads to improve user experience.
“The better the ads are targeted, at least its stuff you’re interested in,” Gallagher said. “So that’s what we’re thinking about. How do you go mobile first, design the ad for the person, take data into account and also take into account all the data we have on the actual device.”
Gallagher said AOL and Verizon are also looking at targeting ads based on what kind of network a customer is on at any given moment to avoid using too much data from a subscriber’s allowance.
“We know if you’re on Wi-Fi or not when we actually serve the ad,” Gallagher said. “So that right there is really interesting because we can start to decision ads based on Wi-Fi verse 3G or 4G. So if it’s a heavier ad, we can immediately block when you’re on a data connection to make sure you only get that in certain places.
“We can do it, we’ve started doing it, and we’re trying to figure out now where does that really make sense,” he continued.
One example where allowing an ad to go through doesn’t make sense, he said, is an instance where an ad over 3G or 4G is trying to get a customer to download a data-heavy game.
“If the second part of the ad is going to take up a lot of data, to me that’s no different than the actual ad taking up a lot of data,” he said.
Gallagher also said AOL is also looking at whether or not to charge consumers for data used when viewing ads on the company’s go90 platform. Gallagher said AOL is looking at sponsored data as a possible solution, but stressed that the company is looking at a range of options in collaboration with marketers.
According to Gallagher, Verizon and AOL are also looking at customizing pre-installed on-device offerings based on data the companies have on each customer.
“So when you are a Verizon customer and you go to buy a new phone, Verizon physically gives you that phone,” he explained. “And when they give it to you, they have some controls over what that phone looks like, what’s on the phone, what’s not on the phone. And up ‘til now they haven’t spent a ton of time thinking about that. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”
Using data gathered about each subscriber, Gallagher said the carriers can look at pre-installing apps that might appeal to a particular customer.
“If Verizon knows that these people have been to CES, when you get your next Verizon phone could we maybe put certain things on there that appeal to you, being a tech junkie,” he said.
“If you’re a business traveler, maybe we could put certain things on the phone that would appeal to you. So that’s the other big thing we’re thinking about, the actual device.”
Gallagher said AOL’s mobile-first innovations have drawn the interest of other carriers outside of Verizon, and said the company is looking to move in an international direction in 2016.
“That’s the company we want to build in 2016, a global ad-tech plus carrier tech platform for marketers to do awesome things around the world,” he said.