You don’t have to be a seasoned account manager or a veteran art director to know that banner ads often polarize opinions. Some people love them, others hate them. But New York-based ad tech startup F# (pronounced like the musical note) has come up with an idea that might well swell the ranks of the “I love banners” contingent.
The banner and the beat
Creative art directors who get a buzz from innovative concepts will love this. F#, which was founded in 2012, converts banner ads into on-demand music players and radio stations. Its recently launched AdPlayer product might look to the casual eye like a regular ad unit; but a little closer scrutiny reveals the unmistakable presence of an enticing “Play” button. It’s hard to resist it – and those that fail will be treated to a music stream while they’re reading the content on the website.
The other thing that might have art directors wiggling their toes in delight is the fact that the music player can be opened up as a standalone popup. That allows users to go on interacting with the ad by listening to uninterrupted music even though they’ve navigated away from the site on which it was featured. In other words, the often-derided banner gets a new lease of life as people choose to interact with it for extended periods (the exact opposite of what all-too-frequently happens with banner ads).
The skeptical account manager may be wondering what all the fuss is about – haven’t advertisers been using Flash banner ads featuring soundtracks of one kind or another since the dawn of online advertising? Yes, they have, of course – but obtaining licenses for the music features can be costly, and eyewateringly so for smaller brands who want to feature well-known pop artists. But F# circumvents this: users can access a whole panoply of top music stars’ creative output through an online radio station (think Pandora) – you don’t need expensive licenses from rights holders for that.
As F#’s CEO Dan Merritts succinctly put it when AdPlayer launched last month, “This makes music accessible to brands that don’t have the money for exclusive partnerships.”
But there’s an impressive list of big names on the startup’s roster, too, including Universal Studios, Comcast and Adidas.