Vibrant Media CEO Irvine Discusses Ad Network Acquisition Image Space Media

Vibrant MediaLast week, Vibrant Media announced the acquisition of in-image ad network Image Space Media (ISM). From the release: “The acquisition of ISM will enhance the delivery of Vibrant Image, a product that identifies static images within brand-safe content across the Web and embeds small overlays within them at the bottom of the image.” Read the release. Terms were not disclosed.

Vibrant Media CEO Cella Irvine discussed the acquisition and some of its implications. In that you have Vibrant Image already, is the acquisition of ISM more about publishers or technology?

CELLA IRVINE: Both, really.

Think about this: There are billions of quality images on the Web and approximately 25%-30% of website “real estate” is made up of images. Until now, this content has been unmonetizable for publishers – and for some publishers this unmonetized image content makes up a good portion of page views. We see that every page viewed on Vibrant’s network has, on average, 1.5 images. This is a tremendous opportunity for publishers to add value to their content in an innovative, user-initiated, and effective way.

Of course, this deal also gives a boost to our technology. We looked at this space rigorously and saw that Image Space Media’s technology platform and skills were best-in-market. We can now bring together their technology with our contextual data and algorithms to provide brands with innovative and effective ways to reach consumers, publishers with ways to monetize valuable assets, and users with ways to interact with a relevant ad where and when they choose.

What happens to the ISM team and CEO Jesse Chenard?

ISM has eight team members, all of whom we’ve welcomed to Vibrant. Jesse Chenard is a true entrepreneur and he is excited about moving on to his next venture, but of course he will work with us as a consultant on technology integration during the transition. Image Space Media is now a Vibrant company and its team has already begun to integrate into relevant teams at Vibrant.

How do you overcome the perception that ad overlays on images take advantage of the user’s natural propensity to click on images and that the performance isn’t necessarily driven by interest in the ad?

I think today’s users are savvier than the industry sometimes gives them credit for. Not only that, they adapt quickly to change, and are constantly looking for new ways to engage with content that’s relevant to them. That’s one reason our ads are user initiated – because today’s consumer is discerning about advertising. We see our Image product – which is only deployed when the user actually clicks on the ad-marked overlay at the bottom of the image – as a natural extension of that behavioral shift. That having been said, we need to stay focused on giving consumers the most relevant experience possible. Context, content, and relevance have been recurrent themes throughout my career, and these concepts map perfectly with Vibrant’s mission and focus.

I’d sum it up like this: We believe in delivering value to the user and to the advertiser by understanding the user’s intent and satisfying that intent with a relevant piece of advertising. There’s tremendous power in user initiation and real value for brands when they engage interested consumers at the right time, at the right place, and with the right message.

We must keep the consumer as the focus of our work. Always. That’s the key to delivering great results for our advertisers and our publishing partners, and it’s at the core of our business strategy.

By John Ebbert

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