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Q&A: Sublime looks to create rich branded experiences

WNIP first met Sublime, formerly Sublime Skinz, in central London more than five years ago. At the time, the French company was pioneering nonintrusive ad formats. Since then, the company has evolved from simply selling ad formats to offering rich branded experiences globally. We caught up with Andrew Buckman, Managing Director EMEA at Sublime, to find out how the company has changed and what it can offer publishers and brands.

For our new readers, can you give us some background about your company?

As a Paris-based company, we started out in 2012 when we launched our non-intrusive, scalable formats. As the only global high-impact advertising marketplace, we offer easily deployed, premium, non-intrusive performance-based brand experiences to inspire and engage digital audiences.

In essence, we pioneer the use of innovative branding tools and creative-driven technologies to deliver tailor-made solutions for our premium brands and publishers.

What business problem is your company addressing?

We take a holistic approach and, looking at the marketplace as a whole, we have identified two key issues we believe need to be urgently addressed.

The first is the growing dissatisfaction of users with online advertising. While ad blocker use on desktop appears to have plateaued at around 11% according to an AOP audit, it is steadily growing on mobile, illustrating users are still frustrated by intrusive, irrelevant, poor quality digital advertising. For too long the digital ad industry’s ROI approach has killed creativity by focussing on short-term gain.

The second problem is the current inability of brands to measure the full impact of their campaigns, and to determine the most effective KPIs to drive performance. While more than 90% of marketers say attribution and measurement is a top priority, only 13% describe their ability to measure marketing efforts as excellent, and many still rely on limited KPIs such as click or view through rates. This lack of granular campaign measurement links with the first issue, as its solution will help brands understand which messages, channels and creative formats work, and which don’t, enabling them to deliver a better user experience.

What is your core solution addressing these problems?

To address user dissatisfaction, our brand marketplace combines non-intrusive, high-impact ad content with creativity to respect and complement the consumer journey and ultimately boost the user experience. It provides the opportunity for brands to start a conversation with consumers, at scale, across both mobile and desktop and deliver engaging, emotional experiences that build brand equity.  

To tackle the measurement issue, our platform offers extended KPIs to prove branding and performance effectiveness of ad units, delivering insights that properly reflect campaign dynamics. With cutting-edge visibility-oriented metrics such as eye tracking and advanced viewability KPIs, our measurement capabilities range from search patterns to social media behaviour, allowing brands to optimise to the most relevant and effective KPIs for their unique business models.

We believe creativity combined with technology and data allows digital ad formats to link branding and performance results.

How does your solution work?

Our tailor-made solutions simplify the delivery of premium, non-intrusive digital ad formats by using programmatic private marketplaces to deliver targeted campaigns in brand-safe environments, that can be followed up with post-exposure brand research.

We support brands throughout the entire campaign process, from the creation of premium creative content to campaign deployment, management and optimisation, allowing us to achieve maximum campaign efficiency. Our proprietary, patented technology is platform agnostic and compatible with all ad tech platforms.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Video advertising is the major trend due to video’s exceptional ability to engage audiences. It is the UK’s largest display format, with spend growing 47% last year to reach more than £1.6 million. Outstream has overtaken instream as the dominant format and almost three-quarters of video ad spend is now on smartphones. But video is tough to scale without interrupting the user experience, and intrusive formats such as video ads that autoplay with sound without any user interaction fall beneath the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads. The industry as a whole is looking for a way to deliver outstream video ads at scale, with formats that are non-intrusive and optimised for mobile yet still drive performance.

How do you view the future?

The future of digital advertising is bright. Even in a year of highly publicised brand safety and transparency issues the UK market grew almost 15%, so just imagine what we can achieve as the industry pulls together to address these concerns. There is increasing demand for advertising that respects the user and drives brand performance – our key areas of expertise. Things change rapidly in this industry and we intend to remain at the forefront of innovation as we pursue our mission of connecting performance, direct-response and premium creative advertising content, to enhance brand experiences and boost brand equity.

Anything else you think we should know about?

We’re keen to increase creativity in programmatic advertising through the somewhat forgotten art of storytelling – the use of emotive narrative and relatable characters to win the hearts of consumers across the lifespan of a campaign. The storytelling format is ideal at a time when each device, platform, and format can contribute to the overall narrative in its own way, delivering experiences that amuse, entertain, inspire and most importantly engage the audience.

Programmatic allows seamless execution with creatives sequenced to take the individual on a journey, and real-time data used to keep messaging relevant and fresh, potentially adapting to real-world events and the user’s immediate context. As we strive to bring creativity to the age of programmatic, we’ll be placing an ever-greater emphasis on the art of storytelling.

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

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