AOL’s Branded Skip Lets You Avoid Ads If You Take a Quick Survey First

Builds 5 new video formats

AOL's new skippable video ads come with the option to view them or take a brand survey. The Web company is calling its new format Branded Skip ads, and it was one of five new video options launched today.

"Users are choosing how they want to engage with the brand," said Dave Miller, vp of ad product management at AOL. "If they skip, that's great, but let's provide some other action."

So, viewers will be able to skip pre-roll ads and instead might have to take a survey (one or two questions, Miller said) or a quiz or even just type in something indicating they recognize the brand doing the advertising.

"We've developed a very flexible unit, and advertisers can choose what they'll ask the consumers to do," Miller said.

The idea is that the survey could provide some additional value to the advertiser, some insight into the consumer, or just ensure brand recognition before passing the user on to the video.

Miller said focus-group testing returned mostly positive sentiments about the branded skip. Pre-roll video is consistently among the least popular digital ad types.

The idea of delivering surveys instead of commercials has been tested elsewhere—one example is Hulu, which sometimes offers a quiz to users in exchange for ad-free viewing.

AOL's other video formats include different interactive features, as well, some of which blend digital display ads into clips. Other interactive features include links to microsites built for the brands' campaigns and icons that lead to more information. AOL also claims these ads, with the right targeting, lead to more relevance and engagement.

There's also a seven-second animated ad that AOL is calling the Branded Slate that plays before a video starts.

All the premium video formats are bolstered by AOL's new ownership of Verizon, which brings with it a whole new set of data about users on mobile devices. AOL is in the process of integrating Verizon's consumer profiling into its ad serving, Miller said.

"When you think about what Verizon brings, obviously data and reach are tremendous benefits," Miller said. "Anything we can do to make ads smarter is important."