Biborg, the young Parisian agency specialised in digital display advertising, celebrates their 5 year anniversary this month. With more than 500 digital campaigns for prestigious clients such as Sony Computer Entertainment, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and Coty, Biborg is seen as the French and international expert of display advertising on desktop, mobile and digital out of home. Since Francois Girardot and Bruno Luriot founded the agency in 2009, they have been joined by Hedy Magroun, who supports Francois with the creative direction and Ismael El Hakim who collaborates with Bruno on the business development of the agency. On the occasion of their fifth anniversary, Francois and Bruno took the opportunity to talk about the agency, their work and the future.
Can you say a few words about how display ads have evolved in the past decade?
BL: The display industry has evolved a lot these last ten years. It has evolved from "direct marketing" to real branding and there are dedicated campaigns via interactive Rich Media formats with the objective to develop the user experience. The stakes are also much more important now, thanks to the power and reach of the large international broadcasters, such as YouTube for example, where it is possible to broadcast more than 100M impressions on the homepage over a week in Europe.
Is there a place for display advertising in the brave new world of native advertising/branded content?
FG : For us it’s a logical and intelligent evolution of display. Let’s stop copying the TV model of mass broadcasting and instead spread advertisements to the right person at the right time and make modifications at the desired moment! We developed a section on the jeuxvideo.com site for Sony PlayStation France. It allows users to buy games while remaining on the site, but it also allows them to participate in competitions, to see comments from gamers, etc. It was accompanied with banners, pre-roll formats and editorial elements. This partnership lasted one year and was rolled out to other websites. At the end, it was renewed as other large announcers in the sector were very eager to occupy the space.
Marketers often complain that display advertising conversion rates are among the lowest. Why is this, and how are your offerings different?
BL : You cannot rely on just one format to deliver branding objectives, generate traffic, engagement and a number of views on Youtube all at the same time.
We feel that every format has its strengths and weaknesses and it’s necessary to know how to find the right balance. We have placed a lot of importance towards the improvement of the performances for our campaigns. To give you an idea, we are disappointed if the CTR is lower than 1% for the Masthead YouTube format, regardless of the brand. But when we approach 2% we can then say that we are really good!
FG : There has never been so much investment in display advertising as there is now. From the duration that each user spends viewing a video, to the behaviour of the user and their click rate, everything is completely measurable. Is the TV capable of going that far?
For the launch of The Last Of Us for Sony PlayStation Europe, we realised that a 100% digital launch throughout Europe with an exceptional result of 1.3 million games sold in the week.
Have you experimented at all with digital video display formats? Do you find that they lend more creative flexibility?
BL :I think that when we will have reached the stage of testing all the formats, it will be time to go on holiday or get onto something else! Seriously, there are always new things to be imagined and video content is omnipresent in display campaigns.
FG : We always try to test new formats, it’s in our DNA. Concerning the advertisement formats, at the moment we strongly believe in the engagement ad (DoubleClick - Google), which can be displayed on desktop, tablet and smartphone. It allows the creation of “in-unit” experiences and is charged based on the commitment for the announcers. We experimented with it for Fendi and Ubisoft for Child Of Light and we are developing several projects of this type at the moment. On Biborg’s website, we have set up an Ad Showcase which I hope, will reflect the variety of our formats we have produced well.
What are the challenges unique to display advertising?
BL :We only have a few seconds to catch the attention of users and deliver a clear, strong message. Whether it’s a format on a big web portal or a DOOH creation in the subway, everything happens in the first 3 seconds and I think it’s not ready to change as people will always move very fast in tunnels of subways. That’s why we try to synchronize screens as much as we can for more impact, as we did for Assassin’s Creed III or Jack the Giant hunter campaigns.
FG : The CTA is always strategic: how to entice users to interact? And finally another specific challenge of display advertising is to produce content quickly while working with numerous partners: clients, media agencies, adservers and publishers.
What can we expect from display advertising in the near future — say, in the next two years?
FG : We think that display evolves logically with higher quality in the concepts and more budget in production because the announcers understand the strategic stakes that it offers. It often remains the first touch point of Internet users with a brand. We bank on an explosion of interactive multi-screen campaigns with a strong focus on mobile, which offers a number of new creative possibilities.
We are also moving towards more responsible advertising; less intrusive and better targeted to the consumers, particularly on mobile where there are many improvements to be made. It can only further their interest in advertising and strengthen the efficiency of the strategies developed by the announcers.
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