AOL NewFront Connects the Real and Digital Worlds
If the terms “omni-channel” and “second screen” don’t mean anything to you, it’s high time they should. Thanks to a near total proliferation of technology devices across every demographic and income bracket, consumers today are using their smartphones, tablets and apps more than ever before. And more than ever before, it’s become incumbent upon marketers to create a seamless tie from the real-world experience they create to the digital ones their customers crave. Omni-channel (meaning, literally, “all channels”) and second screen (meaning, that secondary experience consumers are having on their phones while at an event, watching TV or engaging in another activity), speak to the pervasiveness of this need.
AOL delivered on all fronts last year with its Digital NewFront campaign, an activation designed to take advantage of digital media’s version of television’s traditional TV upfronts, where content is introduced to media buyers and advertising executives in the hopes of securing big money before the programs are released to the viewing public. AOL needed a platform where it could debut its original online video content to a crowd of more than 1,000 at Moynihan Station, a massive, industrial warehouse in New York City. The resulting strategy was built around the theme “It’s On,” a reference to the various digital platforms where consumers can find AOL content. The message was brought to life through a mix of multiple technologies that, together, reinforced the message in a clear and compelling way.
AgencyEA first transformed the raw space into a sleek and inviting environment with distinctive, separate spaces. It then repurposed the main loading dock into an immersive video experience designed to surround the audience in 360 degrees of video, sound, sight and motion. Massive screens wrapped around much of the room. Guests traveled from the presentation space to the reception area through a “distribution tunnel” featuring 50 feet of rear-projected content. The brand brought to life the sheer number of screens and devices that distribute its content by using more than 75 devices in the space, including: Samsung LCDs, Apple Cinema Displays, iPads, iPad Minis, iTouch, iPhones, Roku, XBox, WD TV and Boxee. Guests who were unable to attend could follow along on a live stream, satellite feed and via social media.
The combination of different event technologies allowed AOL to reach higher numbers of their target audience while simultaneously reinforcing its central premise—that AOL is everywhere its viewers are, too. Attendees lined up down the street and around the corner (a quick check-in via event registration technology on an iPad served as the first digital touch point), then they were welcomed in to enjoy show introductions and sightings with celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Hank Azaria, Arianna Huffington and Nicole Richie.
AOL saw an unprecedented turnout for its second annual digital NewFront event. In addition to more than 1,000 attendees at the venue, 315 people watched a feed of the show from a nearby bar while an additional 400 viewed via the live stream. The event earned media coverage in Adweek, AdAge, BizBash, Hollywood Reporter and Huffington Post.