Display ads appearing on the websites of In Touch, Life & Style, J-14, Twist, and Woman's World, among others, are about to receive a facelift.
Bauer Xcel Media, the global digital media division of German-based Bauer Media Group, is the latest to bring GumGum's image-overlaying ad technology to the U.S. market, according to an agreement revealed today.
The move comes a few months after Time Inc. signed its own deal with the self-proclaimed inventors of in-image advertising, a format that consistently achieves an 81 percent viewability rate and delivers significantly higher engagement than other display options, according to GumGum. In March, Bauer announced its own arrangement with GumGum—specific to the Australian market—before expanding that partnership into the U.S. with today's announcement.
"Image content is at the heart of our engagement strategy, and our partnership with GumGum provides our advertisers with high-quality placements that unlock the value of this content through innovative in-image and in-screen ad formats," said David Park, Bauer Xcel Media's head of U.S. business development, in a statement.
With audiences increasingly embracing and engaging with image-driven digital content, all while becoming more savvy about achieving ad-light experiences, publishers continue to look for creative ways to deliver contextually-relevant, high-impact ads without disrupting the user experience.
That's what GumGum, the nine-year-old Santa Monica-based firm, hopes to provide with its various offerings, which include banner ads that can either be overlaid over all or some of an image, or occupy the bottom portion of an entire desktop window or smartphone screen, with formats accomodating both traditional display ads and native.
Like many publishers whose titles primarily occupy the celebrity, lifestyle, and gossip spaces, especially those historically dependent on single-copy sales, Bauer's investment in digital advertising comes at a time when industry-wide declines in print circulation have been well-manifested in the company's U.S. portfolio.
Across the board, Woman's World, First for Women, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style Weekly, and J-14 have suffered considerable circulation setbacks over the last few years. Out of those five titles, First for Women's average verified ciruclation has fallen the least since 2012—down 24 percent, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Single copy sales figures are no less discouraging.
Digital media, on the other hand, has been a significant growth area. Since separating the company's digital operations and rebranding the division Bauer Xcel Media in 2014, average monthly unique visitors to Bauer's overall portfolio of websites is up 150 percent. Last November, Bauer shuttered the print editions of teen-focused titles M and Twist, taking those brands digital-only. At the time, Bauer reported that its Teen Network's digital audience had grown 175 percent over the two years prior. The new GumGum partnership will extend to both of those titles' websites, according to the company.