The onset of holiday usually means bigger budgets to fill and new programs to test. Working through holiday opportunities, we came across AOL’s new solution, Mail Sponsored Promotions. Seeing strong results with Google’s Sponsored Promotions (GSPs) earlier this year, we jumped on board to test during one of our holiday promotional pushes for a retail client. This is a CPC based opportunity, with rates starting at $1.25.
The best part of AOL Mail Sponsored Promotions is the ease to launch. Unlike GSPs, the ads are text-only. Whereas you have a teaser and then expanded HTML unit with GSPs (see Christian Buckler’s pervious GSP post for more detail), the AOL unit does not include a logo or images.
Text ads have a max of 80 characters, but the AOL team does not recommend exceeding 70 characters. The larger character limit doesn’t render when the screen is minimized, which does not provide an ideal experience for the user.
Advertisers have the ability to run up to 5 text ads in rotation. Daily reports are provided so that the team can optimize/update creative based on CTR. Throughout the promotion we were able to narrow down the top performing creatives and run only the top two getting into Cyber Monday. We did run into an issue including the trademark symbol within ads; AOL recommends removing this symbol from all ads in order to avoid serving issues.
As you’ll note in Figure 1, AOL does have limited scale compared to Gmail. Despite this, we were still able to spend a reasonable amount on AOL (70% of the budget we put towards GSPs). Last-click ROI was comparable to our Display RTG programs, returning at 25% less than GSPs.
The campaign did take a few days to ramp up, but once we were live and on promo, we were very happy with the results. This is definitely a program we’ll keep in our back pocket for big promotional pushes moving forward.
|Figure 1 :: AOL Mail Product vs. Competitors (comScore October 2014)|
|Average Daily Visitors*||5,867||21,969||19,565||22,252|
|Average Visits Per Visitor||25||18||22||39.70|
|Total Page Views*||4,078||12,878||14,242||2,364|
|*Data in 000’s|