April 15th, 2009
AOL Morphs Logo Into TurboTax Ad
By Brian Morrissey
In a sign of the times, Intuit yesterday and today capped off a wide-ranging ad deal with AOL by turning the portal’s logo into a TurboTax ad.
In a first, AOL agreed to alter its logo to promote the tax-preparation software as the filing season draws to a close today. When visitors arrive at the AOL home page, the site’s logo disappears, replaced by a flipping calendar. The TurboTax checkmark is shown and becomes part of the “O” in AOL next to a calendar showing the date with the reminder “tax day!” Clicking on the logo brings users to a page on AOL personal finance site Walletpop that celebrates TurboTax’s 25th anniversary.
The placement could be the first time a major portal has turned its home page logo into an ad placement. Google is noted for its whimsical logo treatments to celebrate holidays and events, but it has yet to offer such opportunities to advertisers.
This is a good time to be an advertiser, said Seth Greenberg, director of online advertising and Internet media at Intuit, since publishers are scrambling to outdo each other in a down economy and online environment where supply is exceeding demand.
“They’re hungry out there,” he said. “There’s a lot more competition on the publisher side to get the marketing dollars.”
That means a premium is placed on creativity. Intuit views the AOL logo ad placement as “cherry on the cake,” he said. The heavy lifting has been done in recent weeks through a series of home page takeovers, fixed placement on Walletpop and millions of ad impressions run through AOL’s ad network and owned sites.
The move is another example of the lengths publishers are willing to go in a down ad market to cater to advertisers. Print publications like the Los Angeles Times and Us Weekly have been criticized for their willingness to bring advertising into new areas in their publications, such as the front-page ads in the L.A. Times that looked like news stories.
Online publishers are no different. CollegeHumor.com used April Fool’s Day to poke fun at the willingness to put advertising everywhere with an ad placement from Unilever’s Axe that not only took over the site’s front page, but also changed its URL to http://www.axecollegehumor.com and showed a site replete with Axe articles. Visitors were then taken to the real College Humor site.
The Web factored much more heavily for Intuit this year, Greenberg said. It ran 20 billion ad impressions, a fourfold increase from last year.
The hope is publishers will scramble to one-up each other next year, he added. Google approached Intuit about being the first advertiser to run ads through its network with TurboTax’s live Twitter feed.
“This is a good time to be an advertiser if you have money to spend,” Greenberg said.