Startup Pushes Pinterest-Like Native Ads Play

TripleLift rolls out what it claims is a scalable, visually driven banner killer

Every day, another company makes a foray into native advertising. But this latest one is less about editors and custom content. Rather, it's an attempt at taking Pinterest-like images and turning them into ads running across the Internet.

The startup TripleLift, which bills itself as an ad company for the visual Web, has rolled out a new ad product, Sponsored Images, which automatically pulls brand visuals from social platforms like Pinterest and repurposes them as ads. These ads are designed to blend into other images on Web pages, like editorially driven photos. And according to co-founder Ari Lewine, the company’s technology can identify which brand images are generating the most user interaction across social media sites (e.g., which brand images are getting pinned frequently on Pinterest).

And for publishers weary of labor-intensive native ad solutions, TripleLift’s tech can insert these visual ads onto a publisher's site while matching its look and feel with relative ease. And Lewine claims that publishers don’t need to create different versions of these ads for desktop, mobile, Android, iOS, etc.

“We’re living in a world where cookies are probably not going to be around, and banners are being ignored,” said Lewine. “Plus, we're more mobile more than ever, and the Internet is increasingly visual.”

That’s all a response to the macro trend of responsive design sites. “The problem with this new generation of sites is that there’s no place to put the banner," said Lewine. "Nobody wants to squint [at] small text on their iPhone. That’s a big problem. I want to fix it. We [made] this scalable. This can fit every site, its unique layout, template."

But so far, TripleLift’s starting with about a dozen smaller but visually-centric sites. Sponsored Images is available on Pictacular, Foodgawker and others. But Lewine says he’s talking to all the major magazine publishers about expanding the reach of the product.

Chobani has signed on as TripleLift’s first advertiser. "It's no secret that static banner ads are limiting, so we are always trying to find ways to bring deeply engaging content into users' hands, even if the scale is modest at the moment," said Samantha Willems, Chobani's senior content manager. "In the past, these recipes were limited to our website and social platforms, but this partnership with TripleLift allows us to bring this useful content to new stomachs when they are hungry. … Our recipes' native placement on sites like Foodgawker are so inherent to the natural experience that we've seen an incredible number of clicks at rates you would never see with a traditional banner placed on a portal."

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