Entrepreneur Rafi Ton is very aware that banner ads have a bad name in the world of advertising. That's why he helped co-found BannerPlay
, a new ad network for advertisers and publishers.
BannerPlay has come up with a technology that allows small and midsized firms to create affordable ads that look good. Ton says businesses with limited budgets are usually stuck with lackluster online advertisements.
"The general idea is to provide small businesses with a set of tools that until now was only available to big-brand advertisers," says Ton, who counts years of experience in telecommunications, mobile, marketing and monetization. "Many banners are really annoying and that's why they have a bad reputation. But if they're designed well and you respect the viewer, the ads can work."
BannerPlay offers professional, interactive banner ads using a pay-per-click (PPC) model. The company describes itself as "an end-to-end solution, giving advertisers a chance to build and control an entire campaign with any budget they have."
Think Google AdWords for smaller companies.
"We're competing with Google but we're not trying to beat them at their own game," says Ton. "Conceptually, we're competing for small advertisers. We're trying to offer a new service. We're taking a small advertiser and bringing him to the prime time of the Internet."
BannerPlay is on a mission to wipe out unexciting banner ads, get rid of pop-up and pop-under banners that cover whatever you're trying to read, and make badly designed flashy ads a thing of the past.
The six-person team (there's also a dog on staff, who serves as the official mascot) has created a do-it-yourself technology that allows users to embed YouTube videos, contact forms or social media widgets in the banners. They also offer game banners with prizes.
Ton says new companies just need to choose a pre-made template, type in their message and click “send.”
"We give tips all the way," say Ton, explaining how his company helps others build solid advertising campaigns for the Internet and mobile devices. "The concept is the same as Google AdWords, just click, click, click and you have a professional looking banner ad."
Something for everyone
Ton says the Israeli technology saves the costs of hiring a designer to create the banner, buying the media and purchasing an analytic tool to get statistics. BannerPlay buys the ad space online and places the banners on websites. "We're taking care of the whole process," he says.
Another standout feature of BannerPlay is the ability to modify banners in real time. "Companies can modify and edit banners on the spot. The moment it's done, click and there's a new banner," he says. "Based on our analytics, companies can change their banners to interact with the customers. And they can create as many banners as they want for each campaign."
BannerPlay's founders have a rich background in creating banner ads for major brands. They all left their former positions to start a new company because they believed that this technology should be available to everyone. Small- and medium-size businesses are obviously benefiting but so are individual designers.
"We're very community-driven. We have a program for graphic designers and game developers in which they can register in our system and contribute their designs. Every time their template is used they will get a share of the revenue," explains Ton. "We're bringing fresh designs and also supporting the designers."
BannerPlay's goal to compete with the likes of Google would be considered by most to be an audacious one. Ton says the company's Israeliness is an asset.
"The speed that we're able to adapt to customers' requests and solve problems in this very aggressive environment [is an example of what makes us Israeli]," says Ton. "We're not afraid to compete with the big guys."
Moreover, BannerPlay made the decision to create in HTML5 so they can be seen on any browser, any smartphone and any tablet.
And Ton reports an almost unheard-of click-through rate (CTR) of two to three percent in the BannerPlay system. CTR is considered an important statistic in the industry and is measured according to the number of clicks an ad receives divided by the number of times the ad is shown.
BannerPlay's start in the field is looking bright. Up and running since June 2012, its clients range from political parties to Christmas campaigns for retailers. Some 80% of the customer base is outside of Israel.
"We identified this area as something that is lacking," says Ton. "We're happy with the results so far. Do we think it will grow more? Yes, absolutely. We want to be a significant player in this market."