Interview: Spongecell CEO Ben Kartzman on Display Advertising Trends
Spongecell, the interactive display advertising company that is leading the creative resurgence of online display, has completed a new round of financing led by Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, and Jim Pallotta, Chairman and Managing Director of Raptor Group.
Following these recent news, I have interviewed Spongecell CEO Ben Kartzman, who provided some useful insights into display advertising and its current trends.
Otilia Otlacan: We keep hearing of a resurgence of online display ads – if anything, it is one of the hot topics these days in the world of online advertising. In your opinion, what went wrong with display ads in the first place?
Ben Kartzman: It’s not that anything went wrong with Display Ads, it was just a little slow to catch up with technology. Screen resolutions are much higher now and yet display ads stayed pretty much the same size for a long time. For too many years the industry dumbed down the display space by introducing expandables that interrupted users and running heavy DR ads that let you “punch the monkey.” Another issue is the way we have been valuing display ads. For brand advertisers, as an example, it’s not about the “click” anymore and hasn’t been for some time now. it’s about brands and brands care about metrics that are meaningful to them–in fact, eMarketer just released a study last week that said consumers who viewed a display advertisement were 24% more likely to recommend a product–that’s the type of measurement that a brand cares about, not a click.
OO: Can you give our readers some background as to what has triggered the revival trend?
BK: New technologies, better infrastructure, APIs. Just smarter utilization of the medium.
OO: How does Spongecell address the current challenges in display advertising?
BK: Spongecell places a lot of focus on speed. More and more we are finding clients who need to get campaigns live in a matter of hours and days… We also put a lot of time and energy into engineering the right solutions for brands. Why have a consumer looking to find the nearest store, click out to another map and have to enter more information? That’s not what they want to do. If the banner ad attracts them enough to draw their interest in, then let’s let them complete the entire action right in there – self contained within the unit. It’s a combination of a host of little things like that which make perfect sense to us as consumers.
OO: Rich media creatives running on standard ad placements – could you share with us some details as to how this technology works and what it entails for publishers with display ads inventory?
BK: Since Spongecell units don’t expand they’re considered to be very publisher friendly. As such our polite ads can run in any inventory – exchange, network, premium, etc.
OO: Do new models in display advertising push for new ad metrics? What metrics do you consider to be relevant for display campaigns nowadays?
BK: The metrics must match the objective, but ultimately it’s engagement metrics. Time spent viewing the ad. If there is a video, how many times was it viewed? That is data that brands can really extrapolate from.
OO: Can you share with us some of Spongecell’s plans for the future?
BK: More engaging media across different platforms is certainly something we are planning. Short term it’s more about further refining our platform and continuing to evolve and push the limits of display.
About Ben Kartzman, CEO Spongecell
Ben Kartzman is the CEO and co-founder of Spongecell, a New York based advertising technology company that transforms standard banner ads into dynamic flash ads with rich-media-like functionality. Mr. Kartzman is responsible for managing the growth of the business and overseeing its sales and marketing efforts. Previously, he has lead teams and managed software products at Accenture, Morgan Stanley, Intel and several venture-backed Internet start-ups. Mr. Kartzman graduated with honors from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Information & Decision Systems and Human-Computer Interaction. He has been tapped to speak to audiences all over the U.S., Europe and China on the do’s and don’ts in online advertising.
Spongecell (https://Spongecell.com/) is leading the creative resurgence of online display advertising by combining speed, innovation and advanced engineering to transform standard banner ads into rich-media-like interactive ads that can run in any ad placement on the web. The company works with creative and media agencies to serve thousands of engaging campaigns across billions of impressions for global brand advertisers every year. Spongecell is an independent company founded in 2006 with headquarters in New York and offices throughout the United States and Europe.