ADOTAS – Publishing startup 955 Dreams, the company behind the popular Band of the Day app, announced today the release of its new mobile-specific ad platform. Here’s how it works: The app highlights one musical act each day, and if the user is intrigued, he or she can check out content pertaining to the artist — music, naturally, but also bios, reviews, interviews and video — which the app delivers. The 955 Dreams Platform places interstitial ads in that content. According to representatives from 955 Dreams, that richness of content in the app was inspired by that offered by print magazines. And the experience, for the user, is kind of analogous to reading a magazine: He or she “turns the page” in the process of perusing the content, and certain pages are full-screen ads. Those ads are targeted based on user characteristics (similar to demographic data, according to representatives from the company), and the kind of device in use and the way manner in which the user interacts with that device.
Part of the concept is, 955 Dreams CMO Mark Hanson explained over the phone last week, that in contrast to a lot of digital advertising, which is often perceived as somehow disruptive or unwelcome, for quality print magazines, the ads are part of the experience for the reader, and they complement the articles and the design of the magazine’s content proper. “If you take all of the ads out of a Vogue magazine, it’s not as good,” he said. CEO Kiran Bellubi, also on the line, explained one of the challenges any digital publisher faces is figuring out where to place ads. When you switch from a magazine model to a screen, he said, “you lose the bind. You need a pivot of some sort.” Rather than following a model that he described as “Let’s put ads everywhere!,” Bellubi said 955 Dreams chose to place ads directly within the flow of content, which the user can choose to engage with or flip past. “Because it’s an editorial experience… we bring in a series of ads that we think will be valid for that content,” Bellubi said. Among the factors the engine considers are, he continued, “How fast are you reading? What does the content feel like?” Burberry and Red Bull are two brands 955 Dreams has announced are advertising partners at this point.
According to Hanson and Kiran, one of the benefits of this offering is that, in addition to displaying ads that are at least intended to capture the imagination of the reader/user in a similar way to print, the platform is able to quantify the performance of those ads in ways print can’t. It measures the amount of time a user spends on each page, whether it be a page of content or an ad, which can offer insights into how engaging the ads to a user, compared to the content. “The amount of time spent on an ad is dependent on the user,” Hanson said. “We’re getting data on the amount of time they spend with the ad.”
While 955 Dreams doesn’t have much in the way of shareable stats for the platform at this point, Kiran said that for Band of the Day users, “Users who used to complain about ads in an app — they’re not complaining about it. They’re very happy about it.” And he said that in terms of what 955 Dreams can offer advertisers, “This is just the first step.” While Band of the Day currently boasts 2.2 million members, its parent company plans to launch more new apps focusing on other aspects of culture and lifestyle in the future, and to expand its services for brands and advertisers at the same time.