Vibrant Media, which describes itself as the ‘original native ad company’, recently billed its billionth dollar, 16 years after launching from London’s Brick Lane.
I caught up with founder and executive chairman of Vibrant Media Craig Gooding about how the native ad market has evolved over the last 16 years.
What made you start the company back in 2000?
Like all good ideas, it was born from frustration at the state of digital advertising at that time. There was a lack of relevance and the ad units themselves (banners) were copies of print display.
We wanted to make ads relevant and display them in a native digital only way.
What have been the major challenges in building the business?
Convincing advertisers and investors that serving ads that were contextually relevant but only showed themselves when a user wanted to see one was a pretty alien concept.
The accepted wisdom was that ads should be in your face – a vegas strip experience. $1 billion later we feel vindicated.
How has native advertising changed over the past 15 or so years? How do you see the market developing in future?
We were often called out for blurring the lines between content and commerce. This concept is now largely accepted as native.
I think in the near future we will see the best of audience targeting married with contextual relevance and delivered not in the banner coffins around the pages but in new sophisticated containers.
What does a good native ad look like? What works best?
A good native ad shouldn’t jar with its surroundings. It should be personalised but always mindful of context. Context is critical. Audience targeting is only part of the equation.
It’s like being in a shower and being offered a loan, a flight and some shampoo. They may all be correct offers to you, but only one makes sense at that time.
How big a threat is adblocking to your business model?
is a threat to the whole industry and with advertisers demanding more viewable inventory the content providers are feeling pressured into overloading more ads above the fold or breaking up their content into small bites.
This in turn either sends users elsewhere or encourages them to use ad blockers. we believe in a “less is more” approach: less ads on a page, but more relvance and user control.
This can maintain publisher yields, deliver targeted ads for the advertsers and diminish the need for a user to block ads.