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AOL Hosts Inaugural Programmatic Upfront

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Marking the beginning of Advertising Week 2013 in New York City, AOL staged the first Programmatic Upfront last night. Attended by hundreds from the advertising community, the event celebrated and promoted programmatic ad buying (where targeted ads are purchased automatically based on pre-set rules) for all types of online ads, suggesting that advertisers would have vastly more time to spend on their clients when freed from the burden of buying ad spots.

"Today's event is about something very simple and very powerful," said AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong in his introductory remarks: Automation is at the forefront of the rapid growth of online advertising.

AOL made announcements showing its commitment to programmatic buying. Starting January 1, 2014, AOL's reserved ad inventory, including the homepages of AOL properties, will be available for automated purchase through AOL's AdLearn Open Platform (AOP). The platform has been enhanced to make automated buying faster and simpler, AOL said.

Since AOL recently completed its purchase of online video advertising company Adap.tv, Toby Gabriner, Adap.tv's president, took the stage to talk about using programmatic buying to serve video ads on any device. Through a partnership with Magna Global, he said, Adap.tv will let ad buyers reach a targeted audience with precision and scale.

The rest of the briskly moving hour-long event (two hours, counting the cocktail hour) involved AOL clients such as Hyatt and LG talking about why they're committed to programmatic buying, and celebrities such as Kevin Spacey (recorded) and Nate Silver (in person) giving their perspectives on the digital future.

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