CEO Tim Armstrong told about 2,000 advertisers at his company’s Newfront presentation today that AOL decided to hold its presentation in the Brooklyn Navy Yard — near the Brooklyn Bridge — to make a point about bridging the gap between TV and digital video. But the unseasonably cold rain left staffers trying to make the best of a bad situation as they huddled annoyed young ad buyers into ferry boats and then into an overpacked warehouse to see brief presentations about AOL’s original programming. “We need to be scouts, curators, wide open to talent … on every platform the tech world is dreaming up,” AOL Brand Group CEO Susan Lyne — formerly President of ABC Entertainment — told the crowd. But the event was filled with familiar personalities including actress Zoe Saldana (her show, My Hero, has celebs visiting people who influenced them), Kevin Nealon (professional comics interact with kids in Kevin Nealon’s Laugh Lessons), and Sarah Jessica Parker (her City.Ballet looks at the New York City Ballet).
Other shows feature James Franco, Steve Buscemi, and Connie Chung. And the new joint venture Discovery created with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer has Inspired, in which — the company says — “A-list celebrities, visionaries and some of the biggest newsmakers of our generation” talk about the moments that inspired them. But the most important announcement from a business perspective was that AOL will participate in a beta test of a Nielsen effort to provide TV-like ratings for the digital content. The companies say that this “will make it possible for complete audience comparisons to TV for the first time.”