AOL focuses on ‘building brands people love’ at IAB UK’s Digital Upfronts 2016

Stuart Flint, AOL’s Managing Director, announced that it’s the tech and publishing powerhouse's ambition “to build a global business by 2020 of 2 billion consumers” at their event at One Marylebone, in central London.

Pointing to its award-winning content and well-loved brands, such as The Huffington Post, Xbox and TechCrunch, he said that some of the best-loved brands “own just trust and connections” - naming, by way of example, Airbnb who don't actually own any real estate.

“I make connections with them and I allow my friends and family to make connections with them too,” he explained, before welcoming to the stage Anita Caras, Head of International Research and Consumer Insights.

Caras said that, via AOL’s research, she has identified eight overarching drivers as to why people consume content online – such as to entertain, to connect, to inspire, to feel good and to be in the know.

She said that the research found a high level of brand tolerance within video ad formats. “There’s a willingness to accept an advert instead of having to pay to watch a video,” she said. 

But she warned that quality is key and this “brings brand permission”.  

Up next was Gavin Johnson, Commercial Director, who pointed to the creative strategists, coders, designers, project managers and creative technologists within AOL’s team. 

These individuals, he said, are creating award-winning, innovative and inspirational ideas for brands – such as a world-first, 360-degree virtual reality experience for Cadbury’s Buttons, in partnership with The Huffington Post.

Revealing that AOL will now guarantee both results and viewability on particular campaigns, he added: “We’ve got a refined, simplified proposition to make it easier for you to work with us.”

Mark Melling, Director for Video in Europe, then showcased some of the company’s new content. “AOL is now winning Emmy Awards – that’s how much the digital video vertical has changed,” he said – giving the audience a preview of new shows such as Fearne on Fashion, The Chefs’ Chef and The New Activists. 

Last - but certainly not least - Joanna Lumley, herself an iconic and much-loved brand, took to the stage. 

Speaking of this ‘unfathomably beautiful’ world, she added a dose of glamour and sparkle to proceedings as she touched on a range of topics – from Brexit and recycling, to her love of India and the benefits of having good manners. 

“At 32 I stopped being as mad as a fox and settled down a bit,” she joked. “The older you grow, the more you know that you don’t know.”

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