How does… in-image advertising work?

Each week, we ask some of the industry's most knowledgeable boffins to break down industry jargon to help you through those confusing meetings and indecipherable conferences. Here, GumGum’s Jon Stubley explains how in-image advertising works.

Perhaps unusually for our industry, in-image advertising is exactly what it sounds like. It is a digital ad overlaid on an editorial image – or more specifically, a digital ad appearing within the “frame” of an editorial image.

How does it work (the simple version please)?

The ad-serving technology relies on image recognition and language analysis to “understand” editorial images and pair them with appropriate ads. The tech is driven by AI computer vision capabilities to scan images, videos and the contextual content that surrounds them. So an editorial image of snow-covered Mount Kosciuszko becomes a place for an outdoor wear ad. A picture of a film star’s new hairstyle becomes a beauty brand’s placement – and so it goes on.  

Are the ads served directly or programmatically?

Either and both.

Does it work in mobile?

Yes. In-image ads are actually well-suited for mobile environments because they’re fully responsive and built in HTML5. Also, as screen real estate is valuable on mobile devices, they work well as they don’t take up a significant portion of the screen unlike more traditional digital ads.

Can I prevent my ad appearing on images I don’t want?

The technology scans the image and also the contextual content that surrounds it. So you can black and whitelist in the same way as you would with a regular ad placement. It is actually one of the most brand safe forms of advertising out there – whilst it offers a great additional revenue stream for publishers with scale, the business model doesn’t work for niche micro sites. Consequently it is a premium publisher environment.

Does it work with all types of editorial photos?

Theoretically yes. High-quality images that are the right size (ideally 400×400 pixels) and relevant to the specific campaign work best, but what makes the real differentiator is the quality of the in-image ad creative. To work best, the creative must be true in-image ads built with purpose. A resized banner overlaid across an image won’t be a great user experience – no matter how good the original image is.

Why would you use in-image?

If you’re a brand you get a highly viewable, brand safe and contextual ad appearing where the consumer’s eye is naturally drawn. Think of it as a kind of marriage between native and display advertising. The ad sits within the frameset of organic content and is contextually relevant to the content of the page, but in-image units generally don’t strive to match the look and feel of a page the way typical native units do.

If you’re a publisher, you get a completely new revenue stream that doesn’t irritate or interrupt the end-user experience.

How do you know it works?

You can measure it. In-image advertising generally scores way above industry averages for viewability, engagement and brand lift. We know from our own metrics that the ads achieve an average of 81 percent viewability rate and deliver seven times more engagement than traditional display options.

Jon Stubley is managing director, APAC at GumGum.


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