In Bid To Make Online Ads More Engaging, True[X] Taps Power Media Trio For Board

Apr 17 2014, 3:23am CDT | by

Before their buzz was usurped in the past year by so-called native advertising that’s designed to look like editorial content, engagement ads were touted by some as the next big thing in online advertising.

The idea was that an engagement ad would prompt people to play a game or contest, take a survey, or watch a video, thus engaging them more deeply in a brand’s message and at the same time proving that a real person actually spent real time with the ad instead of actively ignoring it. But despite the notable efforts of Google, which has been heavily promoting its takes on the format, engagement ads haven’t captured the fancy of marketers quite as much as Facebook’s news feed ads or Twitter’s promoted tweets.

That could start to change with the appointment today of a trio of marketing and media heavies to the board of a quirkily named engagement ad company called true[X], a 7-year-old company formerly known as SocialVibe. The new directors at the company, which is based in Los Angeles New York, are Jonathan Miller, former AOL CEO and most recently CEO of News Corp.’s Digital Media Group until 2012; James Murdoch, Fox's co-chief operating officer and younger son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch; and Mich Mathews, until 2011 the chief marketing officer at Microsoft.

In exclusive interviews, Miller and Mathews, who each have been investing in media and advertising startups lately, said they view true[X]‘s engagement ads as at least one way to make online ads more effective, like television already is, for brand or image building. Starting with Google’s search ads and expanding in recent years to display ads targeted “programmatically” by automated ad technologies, online ads have largely been aimed at getting a customer to click a buy button as fast as possible, not to create brand affinity or a consideration to buy down the road. ”If you look at the online ad world, the promise of engagement, targeting, and trackability sounds great,” says Miller. “But it hasn’t met its promise. People are blind to the ads.”

Ads such as true[X]‘s and Google’s TrueView ads, a format used on YouTube that allows viewers to skip the ad, he says, are about “clear and measurable engagement. This is a format that media planners will include in their planning.”

Mathews, who says she got a good return on the ads when Microsoft worked with SocialVibe awhile back, also thinks engagement ads generally are about to take off because they offer at least some of the ability to craft a narrative that TV ads do. “We’re at the tipping point,” she says. “If you get enough publishers interested, it can scale” up to become a prime format online.

What’s more, the format looks familiar to TV advertisers, says Joe Marchese, true[X]‘s CEO. “What saves advertising on the Internet is the commercial break,” he says, and that’s essentially what engagement ads offer.

Not least, Marchese thinks engagement ads can help mitigate the rampant problem of ad fraud. After all, if you’re actively engaged in an ad, it’s unlikely you’re a bot faking an ad impression, at least until the Singularity arrives in a few decades.

True[X] faces potential competition from Google, but at the same time, it could work alongside the giant to push the format. “True[X]‘s engagement ad format and Google’s share a lot of similarities,” Marchese says. “It makes a lot of sense for an advertiser to be able to be able to run engagements across both networks. Our technologies have been developed to allow that and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw one very soon. Consumer-initiated full-screen engagement should be the standard.”

For true[X] to succeed, it will need get a lot of traction with publishers and advertisers alike–which is, of course, the reason Marchese is welcoming these well-connected media and marketing folks to his board. But it also needs to get traction with users. It’s not yet clear whether people want to engage this deeply with ads online. Nor is it clear whether advertisers will create compelling engagement ads that will persuade them to do so, or whether they simply repurpose TV ads in the same way that hasn’t really worked on the Web.

Plus, it’s never easy for a relatively small company, let alone a large one, to define a new format. And there’s no guarantee that true[X] will be the main company to benefit if and when engagement ads do achieve the status of an industry standard. “Not everything is figured out,” concedes Miller.

For now, Marchese is playing missionary for the notion that ads like these could change the widespread negative attitude toward ads especially online. “This ad model could save content on the Internet,” he says. “The Internet needs an ad model that’s built for quality  rather than quantity of content.” That much, at least, is surely true.


Don't miss ...


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

China pledges $81 mn financial assistance for Afghanistan
Beijing, Oct 31 (IANS) China Friday pledged to provide non-reimbursable assistance of 500 million yuan (about 81 million dollars) to Afghanistan this year at an international meeting on Afghanistan held here.
EU seeks talks with Russia over goods duties: WTO
Geneva, Oct 31 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has sought a consultation with Russia over the tariffs the latter imposed on certain agricultural and manufactured goods, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said Friday.
Virgin Galactic's spaceship crashes during test flight
Los Angeles, Nov 1 (IANS) A passenger rocket plane developed by Virgin Galactic's crashed Friday after suffering an "in-flight anomaly" during a powered test flight over the US state of California, the company said.
Bhopal fugitive Warren Anderson is dead (Roundup, Changing dateline)
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Warren Anderson, the former CEO of Union Carbide Corp, has died at 92 after living for 30 years under the shadow of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that killed thousands.

Latest from the Network

Arnold Schwarzenegger 'knew' he'd star in another Terminator movie
Arnold Schwarzenegger ''always knew'' he'd star in another 'Terminator' movie. The 67-year-old actor - the former governor of California - insists he wasn't surprised when he got a call from producers to appear in the...
Read more on Movie Balla
Anne Hathaway would 'love' a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada
Anne Hathaway would ''love'' to appear in a sequel to 'The Devil Wears Prada'. The Oscar-winning actress starred in the popular 2006 comedy-drama, which also featured Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt, and has revealed she...
Read more on Movie Balla
Lily Aldridge wearing mother's Playboy costume for Halloween
Lily Aldridge will wear her mother's old Playboy costume for Halloween. The 28-year-old model - who is married to Kings of Leon singer Caleb Followill - found her mum Laura Lyons' raunchy Playboy Bunny flight attendant...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Rochelle Humes' daughter loves Marvin doll
Rochelle Humes is embarrassed by her daughter's obsession with a doll of her husband, Marvin Humes. The 25-year-old singer has admitted she found it ''cringey'' when she was recently photographed holding a doll of her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Keira Knightley annoyed Chloe Moretz didn't ask her advice
Keira Knightley was annoyed Chloe Grace Moretz didn't want her advice. The 29-year-old actress - who appears alongside the 17-year-old star in her latest movie 'Say When' - was disappointed that the young actress didn'...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Daniel Radcliffe loses everything
Daniel Radcliffe loses everything. The 'Horns' star admits he constantly has to replace his mobile phone and often puts things away and can't ever find them again. The 25-year-old actor said: ''I lose things a lot. At...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Apple Outsmarts Samsung in Terms of Revenue Generation
Samsung can sell more products, but it doesn’t mean that it will earn more profit, as Apple overtakes the Korean giant with respect to the earnings.According to the Cult of Mac, Samsung earned a profit of $3.8 billion...
Read more on Apple Balla
Apple Declares Not to Remove PCalc iOS Calculator Widget
The PCalc iOs calculator widget is free from the risk of being removed, as Apple decides not to drop it from the App Store.According to Tech Crunch, the officials of Apple have confirmed about the move, stating that it...
Read more on Apple Balla
Seth Rogen to Act as Steve Wozniak in the Steve Jobs’ Movie
Seth Rogen has got an important role in the biopic of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, as he has been selected to play as Steve Wozniak.According to the Variety, Rogen will be advised directly by Steve Wozniak, the...
Read more on Apple Balla
Ponzy schemer cheats residents of $22 mn, gets 15-year jail
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) If you have been one of those approached by some 'known' person for investing in something with an assurance of 'easy money', you may benefit reading about this Ponzi schemer jailed in the US...
Read more on Politics Balla