AOL Global Advertising and Strategy President Jeff Levick unveiled a new online ad format this week at Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mixx Conference and Expo, that the company hopes will boost the utility of web content for both readers and advertisers.

The new format, labeled “Project Devil“, may further blur of the line between news, editorial, advertising, and marketing — but Levick proposes that it’s a move beyond today’s typical “interruption model” of advertising, to a more integrated one that adds value for everyone.

Levick thinks AOL’s move is still misunderstood by most in the marketing world. “We’re re-writing the page so that the ad and the content work together,” he says. “It’s a fundamental redesign of the web.”

Levick says there are two significant changes in the new ad format. First, the ads are redesigned to better fit the context of the viewing experience and add a new focus to article content. Second, the format “unlocks” the content of the ad, allowing for interactivity beyond the simple click, directly within the ad unit itself.

The format boasts possibilities for interactivity like video, photo galleries, and live maps directly within the ad. The new trend is towards interactivity directly within ad units, that relies less on the click, and more on engagement in the ad without leaving a web page.

In the two days after the launch, the new ad format is slow to roll out on AOL’s websites. Stylelist, for example, where AOL set out to start running the new ads, has displayed the format off-and-on since the announcement early in the week — at times featuring no display ads at all.

If AOL’s new “Devil” ad format will revolutionize online advertising as the company hopes is still to be seen. But the AOL team is hopeful. It’s the “first major fundamental redesign of the web in the 21st century,” Levick says.

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