When it comes to advertising, AOL says bigger is better. They also say cleaner, more engaging and more focused is better, too and that’s why they created Project Devil.
Project Devil is a new form of display advertising that relies on online-magazine style content in order to promote a product. The ad is designed to occupy the entire right sidebar of a webpage, with every inch devoted to only one sponsor.
JCPenney’s devil ad has a slideshow of winter fashions, over a fashion video and below that is a widget showing their Facebook fan page feed. Olay features an ad with roll-over information and Lexus offers downloadable high-def images of their featured cars.
AOL began rolling out the ads last month, placing them on their moviefone.com and StyleList.com websites. AOL says they’ll roll out the ads on eight more sites by November partnering with Cheerios, Macy’s, Pillsbury Crescents, Sprint, and Suave Professionals. According to an article in ClickZ, this is the next step in rolling out devil ads across the web, including sites not owned by AOL.
The upside of a devil ad is that it reduces page clutter and keeps the focus on one, tightly-targeted client. Devil ads can be designed to look like the pages they’re featured on so visitors may click a video not even realizing that it’s an advertisement.
Magazines has been printing advertorials like these for years now, so why not bring the concept to the web? Well, a couple of reasons. The biggest downside to AOL’s devil ads is that financially, they’re limited to the big brands. And since the ad takes up the entire sidebar the number of advertisers serviced is greatly reduced.
The domino effect of less ads, means less clicks per page, but AOL’s Dirk Freytag says he’s not worried.
“He said although the inventory volume has decreased, ad revenue has remained the same. The company expects its ad revenue to grow as the Devil promos are disseminated across its sites.”
It’s too early to tell if these new devil ads are a success, but they have everything going for them. Interactivity, video, and social media integration, all in one, non-invasive package. And as brands become more savvy about creating ads that look like content, it won’t be long before we would be able to tell one from the other — not without a second look.
What do you think of Project Devil? Could it be the future of display marketing?