AOL UK is claiming an industry "milestone" after making all of its online advertising available to be traded programmatically this week.
Advertisers and agencies can now buy all reserved inventory on AOL UK's owned and operated sites including AOL, The Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch, Parentdish and MyDaily, in an automated way on a self-serve basis.
AOL’s existing premium formats include Project Devil/IAB Portrait, Billboard and Monster MPU, with more set to come.
Agencies and advertisers already using AOL’s Demand Side Platform (DSP) include eBay, Amnet, Cadreon and Vivaki.
Advertisers can also scale their brand message beyond AOL's owned and operated sites, utilising a range of premium formats through AOL's network of premium third party publishers.
Noel Penzer, managing director of AOL UK, called the move "a major milestone for AOL UK and the industry as a whole".
He said: "It re-affirms our investment in and commitment to automation and our belief that programmatic will be the main driver of digital advertising budgets going forward.
"We believe all of our inventory can be bought in an automated fashion, giving agencies and advertisers more time to spend on bigger creative integrations, sponsorships and tailored solutions."
Penzer told Media Week the move promises to remove some of the "administrative side" of the sales process, and free up AOL's sales team to "focus upon areas of their time that can be better spent to drive revenue".
He stressed: "We're not doing this to find staff efficiencies and reduce costs in our business... We see the way the market is heading and feel this is the right thing to do... One thing that hasn't gone away at all is the need to go and sell your properties and propositions."
The move has been welcomed by some agency leaders, including Danny Hopwood, head of platform EMEA, at Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi.
He said: "It’s refreshing to see a premium publisher like AOL embrace programmatic across all aspects of its business.
"AOL’s commitment and drive is further confirmation of the immense growth and adoption of programmatic, which is now present across every product and every inventory source AOL offers to the industry.
"Over the past two years, the company has gone from an ad network proposition to a fully formed technology platform.
"This has helped transform the relationship between VivaKi and AOL from that of traditional agency and publisher, to one of true collaboration and a shared consensus on how we can work together in a programmatically traded industry."
Steve Hobbs, managing director of Aegis Media’s AMNET, said the move by AOL "validates the increasing power of programmatic spend in the UK".
He added: "As one of the leaders in the purchase of programmatic premium campaigns, AMNET will certainly be interested in exploring how we can best use AOL's premium inventory and formats effectively to deliver value for our clients.
"We hope to see more premium publishers following AOL's decision over time."
AOL has invested organically in programmatic technologies over the past few years, building both a proprietary Demand Side Platform (DSP) and Supply Side Platform (SSP).
In the past 12 months, AOL acquired Adap.tv, a leading video trading platform and Convertro, an attribution modeling technology among others, as well as announcing AOL ONE by AOL in February this year: a cross screen programmatic platform that will include linear TV once rolled out in 2015.
According to a recent IAB UK study the share of ads bought through programmatic technologies is estimated to grow from (47%) in 2014 to up to (60-75%) of total UK digital display advertising by 2017.
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