'Our rich in-text ad model allows them to do that'.
UK-founded digital advertising network Vibrant Media was launched by two ex-AOL employees in 2000. 13 years later, the company boasts more than 6,600 publishers, a reach of over 300 million uniques each month, and offices in London, Paris, Hamburg, New York, San Francisco, LA, and beyond.
With experience serving targeted in-text ad campaigns across the web for brands, including Unilever, Sainsbury's, and Microsoft, it's surprising that the firm's business model didn't incorporate mobile. Until now.
Late last month, Vibrant entered the mobile arena armed with a suite full of new ad products for smartphones and tablets. European head of marketing Helen Mussard and European product marketing manager Mark Whistler spoke to Mobile Entertainment to explain why the company's formats have been worth the wait.
How does your advertising model differ from the next?
From day one, the idea was to design a convenient format that works with the content that users were actively engaging with to avoid serving them formats that might be considered 'annoying' and we also wanted formats that do not suffer from 'banner blindness'. Our in-text ad format links to keywords within the content that a user is accessing, which has been the core of our business for the past ten years.
A lot has changed in ten years. How has the business adapted?
We've brought development forward over the past two-three years to make branded content even more prevalent. Brands now want to connect with customers, rather than just sell them products online. With that in mind, we’ve moved into the video and rich media space.
What brought on the decision to enter the mobile market?
The online world has developed into the mobile world, so we've developed and refined a suite of mobile products over the past year. We feel that we have four customers; consumers, brands, agencies and publishers, and the new range allows us to meet their multiple needs.
Digital is now an extension of traditional media formats and the goal is to make sure we allow brands to speak to the users. Mobile slots into our business model nicely and allows that to happen.
How did you handle the transition?
All content has been creatively optimised for mobiles, complementing the desktop experience. Our existing developers lead the development for the new formats. We felt this was key to maintaining the same standard that we're known for providing, rather than using an entirely new team.
What hurdles did you encounter while moving from online to mobile?
Our desktop method was based on hover technology, but mobile users don't have a mouse to scroll for content, which presented a problem. We decided to evolve our range of engagement methods to cater for swipes and taps.
We want mobile users to know which brand wants to advertise to them so they can choose whether or not they want to to view the full ad creative. For this, we developed the Auto-Peek to transparently make the user aware a company wants to engage with them before an ad is even launched.
What happens once a user clicks through?
There are a number of different options; it could redirect them to a video, social media content, or images. The idea is that the brand’s content is striking and will want to make a user interact. Display ads will always be around and it performs really well, but the next generation of display ads will be based on images and social media which are acting as powerful ad formats – Aero is great at harnessing the latter.
What are the benefits of switching to your mobile suite?
Use of mobile will offer cross-platform targeting, thereby generating a full marketing experience, but it’s important not to force ads on consumers. Our cross-platform services don’t just serve ads - we can also develop creative in-house. We are an ad network, but really we like to consider Vibrant a contextual discovery platform.
You can have a big impact with outdoor and TV, but mobile is what brands rely on to build relationships with customers and strengthen existing campaigns.