Though we are hearing over and over again that content is the way forward, video content has been moving in different directions, from creators making content for specific platforms and others pushing for agnostic distribution. The fight is on for distribution and need the content is greater than ever. But what does this mean for advertisers?

AOL have started branding themselves as the new content distributor and syndicator and they currently have the largest curated library in the US. This includes 420,000 total videos with 50,000 AOL originals and they are in the hunt for more content. As we shift to viewing content online, the core of the viewing experience is real time content with news oriented videos being the most watched. The push seems to be toward news and factual programming with shows on home, food, DIY, and tech and business news.

AOL’s plan is to make their curated content available across all channels who act as distributors which includes platforms such as mobile, tablets and connected TVs and channels such as YouTube where they host AOL originals. As a content creator and curator, the definition of competition changes. As YouTube is a distributor (and the second largest search engine), AOL benefits from the traffic found there (50.4% of all videos are streamed via YouTube) and helps add to the revenue share deals they have with video producers.

In terms of viewing video content on mobile, there is currently a 15% monthly growth rate but the majority of traffic is coming from mobile web and not from apps. Though there is a rush to develop newer and better apps, this trend would show that we need to continue to develop and keep growing sites in mobile and import the web experience into a mobile one.

70% of traffic is coming from iOS devices but advertisers can’t just create advertising to suit video players on these devices. Android fragmentation and the variation of screen sizes creates tech challenges. A gold standard needs to be implemented to allow one buy across all screens and all devices. There needs to be more standardisation but until then AOL are suggesting non-interactive ads in order to make them accessible for all devices. 

Current challenges include measurement of ads and ad-serving as devices like connected TVs are unable to have cookies. Publishers also need to solve the problem of how to better serve assets especially to decrease duplication of ads and to match them better with the content they are presented with.

As we’ll globally have 500 million connected TVs by 2015, this is a problem advertisers and publishers will have to solve, and solve quickly. AOL are playing it smart by removing themselves as a platform and moving into the content curation business.

Maybe this will help them shake loose the connection to dial up internet and Meg Ryan/ Tom Hank rom coms.