Unilever Displays Axe via SnapAds

NEW YORK Unilever has partnered with a new display advertising service called SnapAds to promote its dual-function body scrubber, Axe Detailer Shower Tool, just in time for the holiday season.

Introduced in the spring, Axe Detailer Shower Tool features both a soft and a rough side, and has been selling well in major markets, per Unilever. With SnapAds, a new display ad platform launched last month by a San Francisco-based company with the same name, Unilever will run banner advertisements on Wired.com and Reddit.com through mid-December.

Wired Digital, a division of Conde Nast’s Internet unit CondeNet, is working with Unilever to deploy the SnapAds-powered campaign on the Web. (Unilever has an existing partnership with Conde Nast, including print ads in its consumer titles and Web sites. As part of this season’s campaign, Unilever has also placed a custom ad for the shower tool in Wired magazine.)

Unilever said it would draw inspiration from current Axe banner ads, which are known for irreverence and humorous undertones. One potential ad, for example, reads: “Will you be washing her lipstick off your neck? Or scrubbing her saliva off your toes?” (as the picture shows the Axe Detailer). It concludes with the text: “Get your guy parts clean with the Axe Detailer Shower Tool.”

The campaign is part of a larger online marketing push for the Axe brand, said Shane Kent, brand manager for Axe Personal Wash.

“As consumers spend more time online, the ability for Axe to effectively tell our brand stories in this meaningful environment continues to increase,” Kent said. “Display ads have been, and continue to be, a significant component of Axe advertising campaigns.”

SnapAds CEO David Rusenko said the cost of a typical campaign runs anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000. The company is currently working on scoring similar deals with a dozen or so entertainment and packaged-goods companies. Unilever and Wired Digital were the first to come on board, Rusenko said.

Despite their appeal to marketers, online display ads have come under criticism for not effectively engaging viewers. In fact, since brand advertising on the Internet doesn’t offer solid measurement standards, its ROI value is often seen as superfluous when compared to performance-based ads. (Read more on display ads here.)

David Hallerman, senior analyst with eMarketer, an Internet market research firm, said packaged-goods companies are not as susceptible to the same display ad marketing pressures as their counterparts in the financial or auto industries. For packaged goods companies, display ads are often only a small part of the total advertising mix.

But what differs SnapAds from traditional display ad services, according to Rusenko, is the fact that the platform uses a genetic algorithm technology to test ads that are demonstrating the best consumer engagement. He said, “We tailor and optimize the look and feel of these ads for each person’s viewing, so the visual aspect in that message is relevant and attractive to them.”