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7 takes on how to 'hack the ad'

The Winning Hack Team on stage with Spencer Kelly & Mozilla

Supported by the Rubicon Project

This year's AOP Hack Day was an embarassment of riches in terms of creative talent.

Allen Gunn, the executive director of technology charity Aspiration, and facillitator of  the AOP/Mozilla Hack Day 2012 in London, noted that the resources available to the AOP Publisher member's hack teams superceeded that of the US Hackathons.

"Here in London there is a designer for each development team. We have one team here today who have two designers. Development teams in the US
would kill for that."

Designed to bring developers & designers together to address the issues of Digital display advertising the 2012 Hack Day event 'hack the ad', sponsored by the Rubicon Project, is the second annual AOP/Mozilla developer hackathon. As well as helping AOP Publisher members improve their product offerings, the Hack Day also sits as part of the AOP Digital Publishing Summit. The theme of which this year is 'Unleash your Inner Start-up'.

With many teams & companies returning from last year's hack, the dominant challenge for this year's participants came from the world of mobile. AOP is helping Publishers respond to the demands of their audiences as they migrate to mobile (See the AOP Content & Trends Census), and developing investment and maturtiy in the mobile ad market is a key requirement.


The hack day teams brought together collaborators from a range of companies, including: Centaur, IPC, BBC, Newsquest, News International, The Economist, Thomson Reuters, Haymarket, Incisive and Future Publishing.The aim of the hack day was to use HTML5 to ‘develop dynamic applications and websites that work on all platforms, for all of your users - no matter which device or OS they choose. Projects should solve a real world problem or opportunity currently facing AOP members' businesses.’

7 takes on how to 'hack the ad' – more details on the projects

  • Mevan-ator - Performance improvements on sites, specifically with JavaScript. Optimize timeouts, consider revenue with which scripts run. 'Faster ads, more revenue'
    Demo 1 / Demo 2 / code on GitHub
  • Sequence - ad format at top of the page, ad disappears as you scroll, ad reappears at the bottom. allow ad to expand down at top, expand up at bottom. 'A new persistent and non-intrusive ad format for mobile'
    UX Storyboard / Demo (view on mobile) / code on GitHub
  • Blink - Rather than traditional ads, 'Blink'is a concept designed to  integrate ads swiftly in and out of articles, creating interest through brief disruption, yet allowing an advertiser presence on the page at all times. 'It's not subliminal advertising - it's intelligent advertising'.
  • Team Responsive - An ad format that adapts to varying screen sizes and different environments. 'The Banner and Reveal: Cross-Platform Advertising'
    Demo (try resizing the screen) / code on GitHub
  • Ad Putty - Responsive ad unit for the four digital mediums. How to serve ads in responsive layouts without need for serving all code for each mode. (To create a dynamic ad unit which adapts to the size of the page element). 'Putty the responsive, adaptive, all-in-one ad!'
    Demo (resize the screen to see the ad adapt) / code on GitHub / Etherpad
  • EasyAd Generator - An easy ad format, framework for creating ads, lead generation, brand awareness. build social media into ad units. 'Easy rich media ad creation for publisher and advertisers'.
  • First Impressions - To adapt and redesign existing ad formats to meet requirements of viewable impression metrics. 'A dynamic, timed MPU unit to tackle the issue of viewable impressions'.


After some very impressive presentations, the winning project picked by the judges was Ad Putty, the ad solution for serving ads in responsive layouts without need for serving all code for each mode. 'Putty the responsive, adaptive, all-in-one ad!'. The judges were impressed with the workable responses to real world challenges, and the impressive way that the project had been fully realised in such a short space of time. After joining Spencer Kelly on stage at the #AOPSummit, the winners were awarded by Nina Harvey, Sales Director Rubicon Project. All of the projects & ideas were captured on the AOP/Mozilla Ethernotepages – and all participants in the hack day were invited to the Mozilla Festival on 9-11th November


A big thank you to our judges, who provided expert insight and feedback for all the hack teams to encourage them to keep developing their ideas:
Sean Dhillon, Head of Advertising Technology at Telegraph media
Adam Lynch, Inventory and Creative Lead from Virgin Media
Nina Harvey, VP & GM International of Rubicon Project
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