Vibrant Brings On Ex-AOL-er Iler As Its First CTO In Four Years

Vibrant Media has been trying to get marketers and publishers to think of it as more than an “in-text” contextual ad provider, placing more emphasis on video and photos. It’s been also making some key hires. The latest is Tom Iler, the former SVP and CIO at AOL Advertising. Read the release. (This post has been updated to reflect that Richard Brindley served as Vibrant’s first CTO from 2000-2008.)

We spoke to CEO Cella Irvine about the New York company’s hiring spree and expansion plans.

AdExchanger: Why did you decide to create the post of CTO? And what does Iler bring to Vibrant’s table?

Cella Irvine: Over the past 10 months we’ve been adding to the leadership team; with our first chief revenue officer, Sheila Buckley, and our new head of marketing, John Haskin. Tom Iler has an amazing background and was a major force at and AOL’s Platform-A. I’m really looking forward to working with him. He’ll not only run our tech infrastructure, but will help lead the company and build our core technology as a key component of everything we do.

Our next phase of growth is about leveraging our key know-how — the contextual engine we built over 12 years – into new products that deliver value for consumers and results for brands.

Regarding the acquisition of Image Space Media, how do you position images as contextual ads?

We see it as a problem to solve for publishers. If you’re a publisher, you spend a lot of money on images. Users spend a lot of time on images. And, there’s no way to monetize them. And so, what we have done is put a very small overlay at the bottom of an image. It’s clearly marked as an advertisement. And, the user can voluntarily click on that and get a bigger ad or a video. And, the backend results from that offering are astounding both in terms of brand and in terms of conversion, depending on what the advertiser wants

Can you quantify how much in-image ads will comprise of Vibrant’s business this year, versus in-text?

We’re not talking about that now, but I tell you…when we bought this company they had no revenue. And they will end the year in the high single-digit millions.

Does this pave the way for any retargeting products from Vibrant?

We don’t think so. We’ve tried. It doesn’t add that much value to what we do. It doesn’t change the metrics that much… I’m not saying that behavioral and re‑targeting aren’t important. They’re very important in a display context. They’re just not as valuable. They don’t move the needle as much in this context.

Content marketing is hotter than ever – have you ever considered using your tech for content marketing rather than ads?

Content marketing is one of our major pushes. We’re looking at ways to put marketers’ branded content in the page context, or potentially working with content partners, like a YouTube, to allow their content to be placed [on others’ sites as well]. It’s an area we’re focused on building up. We’ve worked with YouTube and Bing, and also CPG companies like Unilever, who have immense troves of valuable content, such as recipes, that we can help surface for discovery by consumers.

People have shown that they want choice, control and relevance — deciding if, how and when to interact with brands. They can turn off and tune out. So it’s imperative that brands and marketers respect this new reality and add value with the content or advertising with which they want people to engage. We have an incredible creative team that works with our 100 global sales professionals to deliver the best solution that marries the consumer’s wants and needs with the results brands require.

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