PepsiCo has signed up for an experimental effort to create new advertising space on publisher Web sites by turning photos into applications.
PepsiCo has linked with Brand Affinity Technologies to sponsor netBAT, a system that turns photos within editorial into sources of additional content on the subject pictured. BAT has constructed a content database mapped to 40,000 celebrities and athletes, including links to video, photos and other information, that is featured when people mouse over a photo. BAT will also show a PepsiCo button, which launches a promotion for the Pepsi Refresh Project.
The ad-enabled photo apps are deployed by Internet publishers reaching 50 million users, including the Web sites of The Daily News (New York) and North Jersey Media Group. In a typical placement, mousing over a photo of New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia includes buttons that will bring up YouTube videos, recent quotes, tweets and news. All the content appears in the photo space, rather than sending users away.
Bonin Bough, director of digital and social media at PepsiCo, said the effort, which runs through the end of the year, is part of Pepsi's search for innovative means to reach audiences, particularly in ways that "bridge the paid and earned media with one editorial unit."
"We as marketers and communicators are continually yearning for new ways to engage our consumers," he said. "It has to happen in a way that brings content and conversation."
The new units bring added functionality and content to Web sites, which differ from other efforts like Vibrant Media and Kontera that simply put new ads on the page, said Allie Savarino Kline, vp, marketing at BAT.
"All publishers are looking for new ways to monetize their content," she said. "And they're looking to keep their users engaged longer. We're giving them new content for free."
Pepsi has created a program called the PepsiCo 10 to work with innovative new tech and media firms. Bough said the program with BAT is meant to serve as a model for how that can work. Pepsi has also made recent deals with Foursquare and Twitter ad network Ad.ly.
BAT recently raised $20 million. In addition to netBAT, it manages a celebrity-endorsement platform that matches 3,600 stars with marketers.