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AOL to train 600 Microsoft employees on AOL ad-tech stack

Last updated on August 24th, 2015 at 02:22 pm

It is up to Jim Norton, AOL’s global head of media sales, to train more than 600 new employees on AOL’s ad-tech stack. This includes one area that most of them have minuscule experience in: programmatic.

This is just part of AOL’s recent majority takeover of Microsoft’s digital advertising business. In June, the two companies agreed to a 10-year search and advertising partnership.

Programmatic, which relates to various echnologies automating the purchasing, placement and optimization of media, has quickly become an exorbitant business for AOL. It’s reported that programmatic revenue for the company soared 60 percent year-over-year in the second quarter. It now accounts for close to half of AOL’s global brand ad business.

The arrangement begins Jan. 2016 and will include mobile, video and display advertising across various Microsoft brands, like MSN, Xbox and Skype. It will be situated in nine markets, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Brazil and Japan.

“Microsoft Advertising as it was once known will now sit within AOL,” said Norton. “The long-term plan is for us to be the sole auctioneer of all [of Microsoft’s] non-search monetization.”

The newest AOL staffers will be trained through LearnCore. The 600-plus employees will watch 70 five- to 15-minute video tutorials. They will then be required to take part in a certification process, which includes a “presentation on mobile for the specialist and actually get graded by that specialist.”

The rise of programmatic

Programmatic media is huge business. This year, programmatic buying is expected to account for $14.88 billion of the near $59 billion digital advertising industry. This is up from $9.9 billion in the previous year.

Many companies have embraced programmatic, like Facebook, Kellogg, Twitter, Time magazine and ZipCar. One industry that is also welcoming programmatic, which may surprise some, is B2B. Between Jul. 2013 and Jul. 2014, the number of B2B brands inserting ads programatically on B2B websites rose 20 percent.

The latest on AOL

Earlier this year, AOL unveiled One, a platform to allow advertisers to optimize their ad campaigns on various channels (display, television and video). AOL coalesced many of its previous products –, AdLearn Open Platform, Converto – into One by AOL.

AOL made headlines back in May when it was announced that Verizon agreed to purchase the media company, which was one of the pioneers of the Internet in the 1990s, for $4.4 billion. The telecom giant officially closed the acquisition in June. The purpose of the move was for Verizon to become the biggest provider of video and content for mobile devices and for the web. It also helps the wireless carrier enhance its digital advertising efforts.

In the three months ending May 31, AOL posted revenues totaling $625.10 million with a gross profit of $329.70 million. On the AOL stock’s final day of trading on Jun. 22, it traded in positive territory at $49.99 per share.

It has indeed been an interesting 2015 for AOL so far. Things seemed very bleak at the start of the year, especially when it was reported that AOL would be laying off staff and shutting down underperforming properties as part of a restructuring effort. Today, it’s on the cusp of rejuvenating its brand.

Photo via Flickr user mikemacadaan


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Andrew Moran
Andrew Moran
Andrew Moran is a full-time professional writer and journalist, who covers the areas of business, economics and personal finance. He has contributed to Benzinga, Capital Liberty News, Career Addict, Money Morning and PFHub.