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GumGum, the startup that pioneered in-image internet advertising without jarring viewers

Job­bing busi­ness devel­op­ment man­agers are ful­ly aware that good online adver­tis­ing sales are born on the back of cre­ative verve and tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. Brand engage­ment plat­form GumGum has a thing or two to teach Adland about both.

When artist and tech­no-geek merge

Found­ed in San­ta Mon­i­ca in 2007 by its now CEO Ophir Tanz, the start­up now has offices in New York, Chica­go, Detroit, San Fran­cis­co and the UK. All of which tells the savvy busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ag­er that it boasts some­thing worth pay­ing atten­tion to.

Tanz’s fas­ci­na­tion with pho­tographs and his exper­tise as a com­put­er sci­en­tist, cross-fer­til­ized one anoth­er to devel­op pro­pri­etary image recog­ni­tion and tar­get­ing tech­nol­o­gy capa­ble of click-through rates 20 times greater than tra­di­tion­al ad net­works. And this was before images took off in a huge way, cour­tesy of ini­tia­tives like Insta­gram and Snapchat. Essen­tial­ly, GumGum con­verts pho­tographs into inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences by over­lay­ing them with Flash, ban­ner or text ad units, which appear as the mouse cur­sor touch­es the image.

Back in 2007, pho­tos were appear­ing on the Net ubiq­ui­tous­ly, but Tanz believed that peo­ple “didn’t real­ly know what pho­tos were about.”

He told Forbes mag­a­zine in a recent interview:

“In order to lay­er a ser­vice on a pho­to, you need to under­stand what’s in the pho­to. If we could under­stand pro­gram­mat­i­cal­ly what’s in many pho­tos at scale — you can do some­thing with that.”

To infin­i­ty and beyond?

Tanz has been proven right: GumGum mon­e­tizes pho­tos for pub­lish­ers with in-image adver­tis­ing, a total­ly nov­el idea when he first came up with it six years ago. Today, it works with upwards of 1,000 pre­mi­um web­sites and reach­es no few­er than 350 mil­lion unique vis­i­tors every month. And it’s been prof­itable since 2011. Adver­tis­ers and brands on the ros­ter include Clin­ique, Dis­ney, Ford, Sam­sung, Toy­ota, Sam­sung and Toy­ota, while pub­lish­ers include the Dai­ly Beastm Shape and U.S. News & World Report.

In-image adver­tis­ing is far less obtru­sive and jar­ring than some of those ads that leap out of the screen at you to shake you by the throat. All while you’re sim­ply try­ing to get to a news arti­cle. This type of adver­tis­ing doesn’t inter­rupt the con­sumer expe­ri­ence because the ads fit seam­less­ly with­in the view­ing of a webpage.

Most busi­ness devel­op­ment man­agers would strong­ly agree that this idea does, indeed, have wings.

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