Media: Double Standards - Getting to join your brand's online conversation

It can be tough for brands to get noticed on the internet, but two chief executives reveal why they think their technologies can create innovative campaigns.

CAMERON YUILL - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ADGENT007

- Explain your technology.

Imagine you are launching a product. Your creative includes a description of features and benefits and a call to action. While out on the web, people are talking about your product: they are giving testimonials to friends, discussing ways of using your product and how it is adding to and altering their lives. Unfortunately, you are unable to capture that conversation. Until now. We have developed an ad unit that lets you include real people talking about your product in real time. Tweetedia pulls in Tweets and other real-time streams so that you can include that conversation in your advertising.

- What is the main benefit for advertisers in using your technology?

We give you the tools to filter and manage the real-time stream. You get to add the authenticity of real people talking about your product to your campaigns without endangering your brand.

- Can you give us an example where your technology has led to real creative innovations in an ad campaign?

One of the most innovative was the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants, which used the Tweetedia widget to provide live updates from a journalist at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. The unit was placed on the Economist, Telegraph and Times websites. FedEx included real-time streams about the emerging markets in the BRIC countries, a car-maker used the ad unit to capture discussion about an upcoming model launch and an airline is currently using Tweetedia to allow people to talk about their holiday destinations.

- What advice would you give to brands that want to be noticed on the web?

Embrace social media as quickly as you can. People are having conversations about your brand all over the web. Some good, some not so good. The brands that will thrive in this rapidly changing environment are the ones that figure out how to "join the conversation".

- How closely do you work with media agencies in developing and evolving your ad solutions?

We engage agencies in discussions about how we can help them be as effective as they can be for their clients. We welcome any agency to meet with us and tell us what they need - and if we can build it, we will.

- What will be the biggest reason for growth in your business this year?

We decided to double-down on our bet and continue to build and innovate so that we can bring leading-edge technologies to the brand advertisers. Our clients tell us they appreciate our efforts and this is reflected in our continued growth.

- What are your favourite websites?

Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Facebook because of the innovation it is bringing to the web with the Open Graph; Twitter for providing a platform for all the world to communicate; and Foursquare for providing a mechanism for local business to connect with me ... although I'm still waiting for my local coffee shop to recognise my mayorship with a free cup of Joe.

HUGO DRAYTON - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, INSKIN MEDIA

- Explain your technology.

InSkin Media's patented technology enables advertisers to rebrand media players within our frames (skins). Our technology is compatible with all publishers' media players and ad servers, integrating with video players such as Brightcove and Ooyala, and with ad servers such as DoubleClick. InSkin's formats are highly visible, in the viewer's eyeline, without being intrusive. The consumer controls the interaction with the brand advertiser. Our technology interacts with the video player, pausing the video while the user engages with the advertiser, and then resumes the video once the user is ready.

- What is the main benefit for advertisers in using your technology?

Highly visual engagement with users, high dwell times (typically three minutes around short-form video) and industry-leading click-through rates of 3 to 4 per cent. InSkin's formats give control to the consumer, while showcasing brand advertisers in the most effective, interactive and editorially positive manner. Our philosophy and practice is to bring the advertiser to the user, on their trusted publisher sites - rather than clicking away via (often broken or blocked) links.

- Can you give us an example where your technology has led to real creative innovations in an ad campaign?

Philadelphia recently used InSkin to house four recipe videos, and generated more than 80 per cent interaction rates with users who had opened the Philadelphia expandable, with average dwell times of more than three minutes with the brand. Our interactive pre-roll product, i-Roll, enabled Unilever to drive frequency and reach, supported by a clear call to action, to fully engage users. The Lynx Twist i-Roll achieved a click-through rate of more than 6 per cent, with a 92 per cent view-through of the 15" copy.

- What advice would you give to brands that want to be noticed on the web?

From a marketing perspective, the guidelines are no different to offline: keep it simple and consistent, and remember that pictures usually speak louder than words. Clearly, search is key to success, so understanding and promoting tags and search terms is critical. Judicious use of social media can be productive. Spend as much time and resource on reaching the right audience as on creative. Brands need to encourage memorable, appropriate messages, ideally with wit, humour, insight and wonder.

- How closely do you work with media agencies in developing and evolving your ad solutions?

Very closely. The agencies have a tight control and understanding of the market. They are our key partners in promoting InSkin's solutions to the market - fortunately, the results are positive, so there is clear mutual benefit.

- What will be the biggest reason for growth in your business this year?

Multiple drivers will contribute to strong 2010 growth for InSkin's innovative business. Market recognition of our formats, supported by great results, will help this; overall growth in online video will be important; and our newest product, PageSkin, will open up new markets and inventory to our interactive, high-performing formats.

- What are your favourite websites?

Those I use most regularly include all the UK national dailies, especially Media Guardian and Telegraph.co.uk (which I launched 15 years ago). I use the Spurs site and fanzines. LloydsTSB and Interactive Investor help me keep tabs on my dwindling resources and investments. Google and iPlayer, plus Muzu and Spotify, Sky and Skype, are among my high-frequency destinations.

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