Making people smarter – moving beyond the dashboard and into configurable insights

How market research technology democratised access to knowledge

By AOL Consumer Analytics and Research team and app development partner Willow Tree.


From one-off case studies to configurable insights

At AOL, a 500 person advertising sales team regularly needs data to prove to highly discerning global brands that their digital marketing programs actually work. The objective was to shift away from research delivered as one-off case studies, to on-demand, real time and configurable insights tied to large normative data.


User-friendly and configurable tools for clients: a new app

AOL realised that the answer could be found in a software solution, they created a new app: “AOL Advertising Works”. The new platform helped AOL’s team to address the following needs:

The need for proof orientation: for the scenario where a client requests solid proof that past campaigns exceeded performance benchmarks, looking at the combination of properties and ad products/solutions.

The need for immediacy: for the scenario where a client asks for insights around a proposed advertising package and needs a reply today.

The need for ease of use: sellers are neither data nor dashboard experts. They need to be able to navigate this platform in only minutes, with minimal or no training.

The need for client-ready output: sellers are busy and should focus their time solving client needs, not manipulating data into slides.

So what?

Insights and real-time data improved sales activities

By making the highest value proof oriented data available through the “AOL Advertising works” app, the company was able to advance the business by directly supporting $150M in advertising sales in 2015. Additionally, on-demand access to this insight has created a more confident sales force. Amongst the more vocal supporters are the most senior sales executives, happy to be able to download key data slides a few minutes before heading out to see a client. Further, the product set became more defensible – framing that certain ad technology on certain web properties work across thousands of marketing efforts is proof that’s difficult to contest. Lastly, AOL was able to build the first mobile, app-based data platform that is now fully accessible via smartphone and tablet.