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Direct Response Marketing

AOL Betting It Can Attract DR Brands

23 Jul, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK - AOL claims its programmatic selling platform, Adap.TV, will let advertisers gauge whether TV ads are driving people to the Web, the phone or into stores to make purchases, reports Mike Shields, a Wall Street Journal blogger.

Shields says AOL is betting it can attract direct response oriented brands to TV with its automated systems that advertisers can use to place their ad buys.

AOL says that unlike online advertising, where brands commonly track the impact of ad placements down to individual sales, TV advertisers don’t know the effectiveness of TV advertising. It’s what Brendan Kitts, AOL chief scientist for, calls “an unsolvable labyrinth for advertisers.”

Kitts admits sales drop when a brand stops its TV ads, but brands “have difficulty measuring what TV is doing, and which component of TV driving biggest results,” he told Shields.

Kitts says AOL’s will help advertisers cherry pick TV shows that should drive the healthiest return on investment. AOL says it has signed up several cable providers (but isn’t sharing names) to provide set-top box data. AOL says it combines that information with other data, including first-party data from brands, consumer profile researchers and aggregators like Experian and Rentrak.

Then, AOL’s proprietary, patented “machine-learning system” crunches data to determine which TV campaign gets credit for the online or real-world conversions. The system can also filter conversions that shouldn’t be credited to a TV campaign (when a consumer shops on his favorite retailer’s site because he just wanted new pants). “You need to be able to filter out what’s driving activity from noise,” Kitts says.

AOL has reportedly attracted the E-commerce firm, a newcomer to TV. Lesa Musatto,’s senior vice president of marketing, told Shields: “For companies like ours, real direct to consumer brands, it’s always been hard to justify above the line advertising. Procter & Gamble approaches this differently than a pure direct marketer. This now allows us to actually play in the brand advertising space. It’s marries Web advertising and TV.”

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