August 24, 2010, 3:41 PM

AOL Advertising offers a broad reach

The offering allows marketers to target 186 million consumers.

AOL Inc. has quietly launched Ad Desk, a display advertising platform that enables retailers to get an advertising program either via working with a sales team, or directly on AOL’s site.

The offering seeks to leverage AOL’s broad reach— brands under its umbrella include Mapquest, Patch, LemonDrop, Engadget, BlackVoices and ParentDish—to help retailers go after consumers where they’re already looking.

“We have unduplicated reach,” says Venus Bivins, AOL head of category advertising.

To help retailers find a specific audience, AOL offers a variety of products that enable retailers to zero in on specific online behaviors or attributes—both via its unique algorithms, as well as data provided by AOL users. “We’re able to tell a story about a retailer’s customers,” says Bivins. Working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Stanford University’s Venture Lab, AOL can derive insights from raw transaction data.

“We can tell a retailer who acted on their particular ad, or what type of behavior segment they come or who is most likely to complete a transaction based on a series of behaviors,” she says.

The Ad Desk offering puts power in the hands of advertisers, says Matt Barrett, senior search program manager. “Mid- to small-size retailers who know what they’re looking for, have banner ads ready to go can self-manage their campaign,” he says.

Ad Desk allows retailers to target customers based on state, ZIP code, as well as other demographics. They can also locate consumers who’ve visited a retail site or who exhibit particular online behaviors such as shopping for a sweater. Retailers then can place messages on the specific AOL sites–which are available only through Ad Desk.

AOL provides a variety of reporting metrics, including reports that allow retailers to filter results by core metrics, audience behaviors, geographic and technographic data, site content, or reach and frequency.

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