In-Image Ads…They’re Kidding, Right?

einsteininad2The primer reads like condescending farce. Unfortunately, they are dead serious.

On social media, articles with images receive 94% more views than those without, according to the folks at digital ad agency GumGum and self-declared creator of the In-image ad category.

In-image ads are so effective, they claim, “it’s a wonder everyone isn’t using them,” as they note in a report on the concept, sponsored on the Digiday website.

What is an in-image ad? According to the GumGum website, “Using image recognition technology, we deliver targeted placements as contextual overlays on top of related editorial pictures.”

So, for example, your carefully chosen editorial image of a woman drinking an unbranded cola magically becomes a Faygo ad, thanks to the wonders of image recognition technology and cutting edge ad programming.

In-image advertising is a way around the growing use of ad blockers and, according to GumGum, provides an antidote to the digital ad burnout we all are suffering.

Here’s how it works: Brand X is willing to sell ad space in their on-line content…on top of the existing editorial images the brand publishes. So that gorgeous shot of the mountain peak in your story on high-altitude adventure becomes an ad for an outdoor clothing company…or Chapstick.

From an editorial perspective, this looks like a nightmare.

GumGum offers a lot of (condescending? even snarky?) advice on how to sell the idea to the editorial team (“you’ll get back precious real estate you used to have to leave aside for right rail or banner ads” and “they are less intrusive than pop-ups”); we’re still skeptical.

A sample exercise to get team buy-in goes like this:

“Ask your editorial team to close their eyes and envision a peaceful tableau. It could be a deserted beach; a beautiful, sun-dappled forest glen or a set of perfectly edited posts lined up in the CMS – nirvana! Remind them that In-Image advertising, when executed properly, requires only a 20 to 30 percent fill rate to generate substantial added revenue. Ask them to pepper their imaginary landscape with a few pieces of tasteful signage, seamlessly integrated into the scenery rather than blaring on top of it. Have them meditate on this less-than-terrifying scene until their anxieties melt away.”

Um. Is this from the Onion?

If brands are serious about engaging customers with their own stories, why would they buy into this? It seems crazy to us to dilute a carefully crafted editorial experience in this way, although we know the battle for eyeballs is intense.

Some days the printing industry seems tough…but then I read about something like this. It’s good to work in print.