Last week, we began looking at the organizations behind SMWNYC, making it all happen. Second in our series highlighting our local sponsors is SocialVibe, digital advertising company that builds philanthropy into its core. SVP Sales of North America, Mike Barbeau tells us the story of how it evolved into an award-winning, game changing company- and the lack of singing ability on their team. Learn more about this inspiring sponsor and make sure to keep up with them online on Facebook and Twitter.
Mike, our global theme for SMW12 is “Empowering Change through Collaboration.” How does SocialVibe support this?
The theme is very fitting for what SocialVibe is doing to try to change the way advertising works today. Collaboration in digital media is something that starts in the media itself as consumers are finally being brought into the fold when it comes to advertising online. Instead of being bombarded by advertising desperate for their attention, consumers are being invited into experiences or even initiating ad experiences on their own.
This focus on a consumer’s attention is one that requires advertisers and publishers to work together to respect that attention and deliver a positive consumer experience. The beauty of this transition is that it means the experience starts with the consumer. Solving the “attention riddle” is something that requires collaboration at every level of the digital media world, and we need to empower each other with the tools and know-how to fix online advertising.
What new trends do you expect to see more of in 2012?
From a creative standpoint, I expect to see more consumer-driven ad experiences. Not just interactive ads, but ads that are built to let the consumer truly control the experience. We’ll be seeing more ads that are built where the consumer is at the forefront and the brand is actually “helping” them get something they actually want in the form of information, offers or content. Mobile will probably be at the forefront of this as it’s the most personal platform for consumers and one in which the market is ripe for innovation. I also expect to see new forms of accepted online ad measurement and accountability making their way into digital discussions. Lastly, I think we’ll see more publishers adopting new, alternative ad models to monetize their sites and provide better experiences for their users.
SocialVibe has reinvented digital advertising, and been awarded by Forbes “Best Social Media Campaign” in 2010 for your work with Bing. Why have your campaigns been so successful, and how have you been able to engage such large number of users around brands?
It’s actually pretty simple — we put the consumer first in the experience. By giving them something of value endemic to their online experience, we built a model around the one thing all advertisers want: consumer attention.
In exchange for social currency, access to content, or charitable donations, we’re able to drive millions of consumers to invite themselves into ad experiences. In doing so, we solved for the core goal of media anywhere — to get consumers to pay attention to a brand message. Instead of needing 1000 impressions to get a single user to see a brand message, we only need one experience to drive over a minute of active attention on a message. This performance brand advertising model guarantees that the message is actually seen, and it helps brands achieve their intended back-end effects (i.e. purchase, signup, etc.).
SocialVibe is digital advertising company with a charitable component. Can you tell us a bit more about the platform and how it got started?
SocialVibe started out as a cause-motivated social media community where people could complete brand activities in order to generate free micro-donations to charity. The engagement advertising model that you now see across Zynga games, Pandora, IMVU and other consumer sites was born out of this innovative technology, and we’re really proud of our charity roots.
The work that SocialVibe is doing to fundraise for users’ personal causes is inspiring. How has this evolved and what have been some of the most inspirational or motivational stories from this?
Many of us started working at SocialVibe at least in part because of the aspect of philanthropy, and it remains at the center of our culture even as we build our ad model into other types of partner sites. One of my favorite stories was very early on when the folks at PowerBar’s marketing center got a call from a consumer who wanted to thank them for supporting their cause. The call center had no idea what the consumer was talking about, and it ended up getting passed along all the way to the brand manager who had bought the campaign with us. It was a pretty fun way to show that consumers actually cared about the impact a brand could make in the real world.
We also did a campaign one year with a brand supporting Dress for Success, a non-profit that provide professional business attire for low-income women. During the campaign,SocialVibe received a call from a woman who wanted to donate boxes of clothes but didn’t have a “drop” center near her house. We ended up paying for her to ship the clothes to the nearest center, whereupon the brand got a call saying it had been their biggest individual donation from a consumer, ever. Pretty cool stuff.
What are you hoping to see in this year’s SMW?
Besides the industry’s greatest minds bellying up to the bar, I’d love to see people working together to identify new ways to measure the digital landscape. We all need to define a metric for the industry, because online measurement seems to be heading in the wrong direction. So whether it’s on a bar napkin or in a panel, getting a few people to sketch out how we can define successes in the industry would be a great start as we head into our 3rd decade of digital media.
What can New Yorkers expect to see from SocialVibe at SMW this February?
Hopefully no singing from any member of the SocialVibe team, no one sleeping through my panel, and also no snow. (But I can’t promise any of these.)