Sony Touts ‘Spider-Man’ With Slide Show

NEW YORK Sony Pictures hopes to build buzz among social networkers for the summer release of the latest installment in the Spider-Man franchise through slide shows.

The studio last week launched a campaign via Photobucket that lets its 39 million users create Spider-Man-braded slide shows with their photographs. The campaign is one of several Photobucket is rolling out in the hopes of proving its large audience is ripe for brand advertising.

The secret, said Peter Foster, vp, sales at the company, is to integrate brands into the experience in a way that enhances it, rather than interrupts it.

“It’s taking whatever they’re doing and putting a brand message into it,” he said. “We’re going to be able to do that on a scale.”

Photobucket is promoting the Spider-Man 3 slide show tool on its home page and throughout the site. Users clicking through to the area are brought to a site-branded page with movie scenes. The slide show skin is lightly branded with Spider-Man‘s telltale webbing, Spider-Man crouched in the corner and a rain motif that fits with the film’s darker edge this time around. Spider-Man 3 is due for release May 4.

For Photobucket, the brand campaigns are important to prove its worth as a media vehicle, rather than its reputation as a place users store their photos that end up uploaded on MySpace. Its users create about 160,000 slide shows per day, the company reports, and conduct 25 million searches.

Last week it also launched a video remixing content to promote pop star Mandy Moore.

Foster said about half of the site’s traffic is now “destination” visitors who are browsing photos, rather than simply utility traffic for Photobucket’s storage services.

“It’s not necessarily searching for a high-quality image of a sunset to put on the cover of your book,” he said. “It’s searching for a really cool avatar to put on your MySpace page.”

Enhancing its status as a destination and social site will likely increase Photobucket’s price tag. CEO Alex Welch confirmed to Bloomberg last week that the company hired an investment bank to explore a possible sale.

According to financial statements posted by Techcrunch, Photobucket generated $6.3 million in ad revenue last year and expects to more than quadruple it this year.