Cannes Review > AOL Seminar

Monday, 20 June. Review for The Re-Calibration of Form and Function Online by AOL, presented by Tim Armstrong, CEO - AOL, and Arianna Huffington - Co-founder, Editor-in-Chief - The Huffington Post.

Huffington Post: Adrianna opened up, she’s extremely charismatic, funny, and overall a great entertainer. Overall she provided a lot more entertainment than good content, but that’s part being up there.

Her big idea: values online should mimic values offline. She gave a brief history of the Internet and claimed it has been very immature, and asked what shou

ld the Internet be when it grows up? All online brand experiences should focus on 4 pillars:

1. Trust: brands need trust 2. Authenticity: is like pornography - you know it when you see it 3. Engagement: around their values, not their products 4. Pursuit of happiness

…. that was it - very enlightening! :)

AOL: Then Tim took the stage, here comes the good part. Tim shows state of the art research and studies performed on aol.com using eye tracking to fully understand behavior, attention, reactions to visual stimulus, and A/B testing performed by changing key content units on the page. The result, staggering, Tim concludes that the future of the Internet and effective monetization models will consist of migrating from old fashion traditional banners to new improved bigger banners. Yes! By changing the format, adding more richness, better experience, more video, and making it longer, you can effectively increase the noise to effectively disrupt the attention of the web users and make him look at the ad. That Tim described as Ads with human emotion.

Then to try to make this statement a little more appealing, the rephrases it as brands will simply rent 20% of AOL’s portal space, so it’s not technically a banner anymore, it’s a space where they can embed rich content. Much better, phew, I thought the future of the Internet are better banners.

Ok, now finally for some real business value. Studies show that 83% of consumers use fewer than 30 sites a month; they use 20 fixed brands, and 10 rotating brands. I found this insight quite useful, makes you rethink the entire SEO and long-tail strategy. So that’s AOL’s strategy? Let’s acquire all the top brands to make sure we’re always part of the top 20.

Finally some words of wisdom: give creativity a space in the web and stop taking orders from the silicon valley.

Such statement was intended to please a creative audience, but I totally disagree. There is much to learn from the silicon valley, and the future of experiences is a marriage of brands, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Original Session Description:

Digital media has long been considered a singular experience for consumers and mostly a direct response vehicle for brands. However, as content reclaims its rightful seat at the center of the platform and brands take an increasingly significant role in improving the experience, the industry must change the online environment as we know it. Join Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington as they discuss the shifting intersection of content, creativity, advertising and technology; the increasing importance of context; and ultimately outline what this brave (and brand!) new digital world can, should and will look like.