AOL expands A/B optimization tests to mobile

Marketing executives now can monitor and change tests from their smartphones.

Amy Dusto

Internet applications and services provider AOL Inc. has been running 30 A/B optimization tests on web sites each week for the last year using Adobe Systems Inc.’s Target tool, says Jen Towns, director of retention marketing at AOL. Now the company is not only extending those tests to its mobile landing pages, but Towns can also access the Target tool and make changes to the tests on-the-go from her smartphone, she says.

“I read tests on my mobile phone and I’ve actually pushed winners from my mobile device before,” she says. “It’s a very easy user interface that allows customers like me to stay engaged with testing all the time.”

AOL is one of the first web companies to try the updated Adobe Target, which today joins Adobe Social, the vendor’s social media marketing tool, in Adobe Marketing Cloud’s new user interface, the company says. The marketing cloud will eventually connect the vendor's five main products—for analytics, content creation and management, targeting, social media, and ad spending—into a single dashboard. Cloud refers to a company hosting systems or data on a server via the web. The new user interface allows staff from any part of a business, such as marketing or analytics, to share data between their Adobe tools similarly to how they share pins on Pinterest.

With the update, clients can create one web site optimization test using the interface’s drag-and-drop tools and run it for all screen sizes, desktop and mobile, says Aseem Chandra, vice president, Adobe Target and Adobe Experience Manager. The vendor also added a mobile app optimization tool, he says.

Additionally, all of a retailer or marketer’s data—mobile, non-mobile or offline—is collected in the same place, so  Adobe systems can monitor how marketing campaigns are performing across various devices, Chandra says. That also lets a company, for example, notice that a customer is standing in a store and send her a personalized deal based on her past browsing history on the PC, he says.

AOL this week began two mobile optimization tests with the updated Adobe Target, Towns says. In one, it’s testing adding a click-to-call button in e-mails requesting updated payment information from customers whose payment methods have failed, she says. Previously those messages only linked to a web form for updating payment information. But 25% of AOL customers read the e-mails on mobile devices, she says, “and the rendering of the form on mobile sucked—there’s no way you would have interacted with that,” Towns says.

The second test is to optimize the mobile landing pages for product downloads. For mobile visitors, Towns’ team is swapping the download link with one to request an e-mail reminder to download when they are home on their PC instead. This is key, as most of the product downloads are specifically designed for PC use, such as an antivirus protection service, she says.

It’s too early for results on either test, Towns says, but she’s already pleased with how easy the new interface is to use. “For people like me—I don’t write code—to be able to run these tests is a huge testament to the product,” she says. “I can launch a test and I can launch it from my mobile device.”

The amount of optimization testing Towns’ team has been able to accomplish in the last year with Adobe Target would have taken at least three years going through AOL’s internal technology team, she says.

Adobe’s pricing ranges from $10,000 per year for one tool in its marketing suite into the millions annually, depending on the number of products and how often a client uses them, the company says.


A/B testing, Adobe, Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Target, AOL, Aseem Chandra, Jen Towns, m-commerce, Mobile, mobile commerce, mobile optimization