Zumobi Launches In-App Ads Incorporating “Brand Integration”

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ADOTAS – Premium app network Zumobi launched a new rich media ad platform for its apps, aiming to, as Zumobi vice president of product design John SanGiovanni put it in a recent conversation, “make [the ad] totally organic with the app itself.” The platform’s called Zumobi Brand Integration, appropriately enough — it’s designed so that when a user taps on an ad, it resembles and feels like the app itself when it expands. It’s also designed to facilitate sharing content from the ads over social media, pin elements of the ad to the home screens of their mobile devices (this would be desirable for an interactive ad that involved the user, say, filling out a survey or adding photos), and to present app-specific branded content in order to catch the attention of a target audience with a particular set of interests who would be using that app.

Zumobi works with premium publishers (over 60 of them — for example, MSNBC, The Today Show, Motor Trend, Good Housekeeping, The Learning Channel and so on) and major brands (Toyota, Procter and Gamble, Kraft, Target, Hewlett-Packard, Disney, Bank of America, to name a few), which can shed some light on the breadth of audiences that can be reached through these apps and the level of sophistication possible in the ads themselves. “We’ve been quietly working on this for a year,” said Zumobi CEO Ken Willner. In terms of the functionality and user experience, Willner gave the example of Boeing. “They want to get in front of senators,” he explained. “It’s a really specific audience.” Boeing had placed a link to an ad in a stream of links to recent videos in a Meet the Press app, and if a user tapped on the ad link, he or she would be directed to a long-form ad that, at a glance, looks and functions more like a parallel app to the Meet the Press app than it does to an ad.

According to Willner, the platform allows for what he called “participatory advertising” via its incorporation into social media. By providing branded content and experiences to which users can add their own content (and, ideally, share with their networks), there’s a “living HTML experience you can come back to.”

Willner says that in Zumobi apps, they’ve seen click-through rates of 6.7 percent for tablets and 4 percent for phones. But the goal is to not targeting and ad placement, but about giving the user something desirable. “It’s not necessarily about impressions,” Willner said. “It’s about engagement.” But, although Zumobi’s working with apps that have huge audiences and with big-time, recognizable brands, brands still need to think about being engaging, not merely being present, Willner pointed out. “Not every brand knows how to be a publisher,” he said.

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