PointRoll Debuts Unit That Blends Advertising With Editorial

PointRoll, the Gannett-owned ad-technology shop, has introduced a new banner ad unit that lets publishers offer advertisers closer integration with their content.

The new units, dubbed Dig@torial, allow advertising content to live inside a banner directly adjacent to editorial content pulled from the publisher’s site. The effect is to bring the idea of a branded microsite directly to a publisher’s homepage.

“The trend in the marketplace right now is for advertisers and publishers to create these very expensive microsites and then spend a lot of money to drive traffic to them,” Michael Aronowitz, VP of channel development at PointRoll, said. “But Dig@torial itself takes the microsite experience, blows it into an ad unit to be sponsored by an advertiser, combining the expenditure of building and driving traffic all into one execution in a lot more cost-effective way.”

PointRoll partnered with Discovery Media on a benchmark study to determine the efficacy of the units. According to the results, rich media interaction and click-through rates on Discovery sites using the units exceeded the PointRoll average by more than 70 percent. The units also outperformed standard Discovery campaigns by an additional 50 percent for both interaction rate and time-spent metrics. The units are now live on sites such as Discovery.com, TLC.com, and AnimalPlanet.com.

The units, which expand when rolled over, support text, pictures and video. PointRoll is able to provide time-spent metrics for all the rich media elements.

But while publishers are certainly eager for new tools to lure advertisers in the down market, combining editorial and advertising inside a banner ad could make some uncomfortable. Aronowitz acknowledged the concern, and said the unit was designed to make it clear where editorial ended and advertising began. A Discovery spokesperson said in an e-mail message that “it is very important that the Dig@torials provide a clear distinction between advertising and editorial, and we trust that users will see the difference.”

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