Most innovations in ad-tech involve complex layers of acronyms like CPE, CTR, DSP, SSP and RTB. They involve audiences and validation and white labels and proprietary solutions and actionable insights and impression tracking and third parties and first parties and data. Lots of data. It’s innovative stuff and the companies doing it are creating a lot of value. Really.
But it’s also business that’s conducted in a whole other language that somewhat resembles English. That may explain why I found the latest innovation from video ad company Jun Group to be a breath of fresh air. The company simply made its ads bigger. Much bigger. Like twice the size. How delightfully simple.
Advertisers will probably welcome the change. Jun group’s tests showed that the bigger the ad, the higher the completion rate and the more likely viewers are to share the ad (you read that correctly, people actually voluntarily share advertisements on social media). Jun Group isn’t the only video ad company to recognize the value of the large player–Tremor Video is also seeing much better watch rates on its larger units. A billboard always grabs more attention than a flier. The big videos work.
Tremor’s units go up to 700 x 500 pixels. Jun Group’s are now 800 x 540. It’s like some sort of advertising arms race.
The question is, do people hate them? At first blush, a bunch of giant screaming video ads sounds like some horrible Times Square version of the Web that I don’t want to surf. But after talking to Jun Group COO Corey Weiner I realized his company is not part of the problem.
Jun Group’s philosophy is that users hate ads when they’re forced to watch them. That should be a no-brainer, but if you look around the web, most publishers haven’t quite picked up on it. “We need to admit that the user is in control,” he says. “You need to let them choose when they want to interact with you.” If you think about it, we are very smart about the way we avoid ad interaction. How many times do you actually watch a pre-roll ad, and how many times do you IM friends, check Twitter, or scroll through another tab while you wait for it to finish?
That’s the driving force behind the “click to skip” ads on Youtube and the ad swap option on Hulu.
Jun Group takes it a step further with its “incentivized” video ad unit. They’re offered in places where users want something for free. By now, most of us have admitted that we will shamelessly give up our data, our time, and our attention to a brand in exchange for something free. That’s why Facebook knows everything about us. That’s why we sit through terrible interstitial ads for each turn in Words With Friends. It’s why we’ll pay for a song download with a Tweet or type in a brand’s message to complete a verification capcha. Regardless of how degrading it might feel, we’re okay with “brand-washing” because free always wins.
Jun Group’s ads are in games and social media, often disguised as anything but an ad. Weiner mentioned the example of a unit offering more points or the opportunity to level up within a game. Click on it, and you get the reward after you watch one of Jun Group’s video ads. You’ve chosen it, so you’re less likely to hate it. And that’s how 95% of people exposed to Jun Group’s video ads watch them to completion. The ads run on dating sites and music streaming sites as well.
Now those opt-in ads are gigantic. Your move, Tremor Video.
Jun Group, based in New York, is profitable. The company raised $2.5 million from Western Technology Movement in 2010.