The Romanian startup scene has trodden a similar path to Ireland’s. First it built up a reputation for itself as a great place to outsource to - Microsoft, Oracle and Intel all set up shop there – before an indigenous startup scene sprang up around the ankles of the US goliaths. In video advertising, Brainient are one of the most promising startups to have emerged. They launched in 2009 and they quickly opened an office in London, where last week they raised $1.8 million, most of which will be spent on expanding their existing operations in London and Bucharest, and on opening a new office in New York.
Brainient is headed up by CEO Emi Gal, a 25 year-old entrepreneur and a native of Romania. The company employs fifteen people and notable clients include Volvo, Samsung, Reebok, Guiness Warner Bros, and Paramount. The most recent funding round was led by Prague-based Credo Ventures and other backers include Atlas Venture (investors in DataXu, AdSafe Media, OwnerIQ) and Estag Capital (investors in RevenueMax, Germany’s leading yield optimization platform).
Brainient’s focus has mainly been on improving video advertising ads by making ads more interactive and more dynamic, whilst still adhering to VAST and VPAID standards. Speaking with VAN, Emi Gal, Brainient CEO, said, ‘Our objective is to help our clients increase the effectiveness of their ads. And by effectiveness I mean we aim to increase the engagement rates, the click-through rates, the dwell time and the post-click performance of the ads’. Brainient have two main products, one that is focused more brand advertisers, and another that is designed more for retargeting and performance.
The brand product is called BrainRolls. ‘BrainRolls is a platform that enables an advertiser to dynamically customize their video ads by making them interactive. So, for example an automotive ad like VW can add an interactive layer on top of their video that enables viewers to book a test drive, download a brochure, find out more about the car, see more photos or perhaps find the nearest branch where they can buy the car,’ he added.
Another Brainient product is BrainAds, a video ad format that acts as a performance and branding hybrid. Part of the ad is a video that delivers brand messaging or perhaps highlights things like delivery options, while another part of the ad is dynamic and shows the user products they’ve viewed on the advertiser’s site. Even if you’re already familar with dynamic display ads, it’s worth taking a look as it’s interesting to be hit by brand and performance messaging all at once – you can view a demo here.
Gal says the performance on both products has been ‘aboslutely amazing’. Speaking about BrainRolls (the brand-oriented ad), he said, ‘The average click-through rate ranges from two to three per cent and the engagement ranges from seven to fifteen per cent. The dwell time is on average, double the length of the asset, so with a fifteen second pre-roll, people are spending thirty seconds on the pre-roll’.
BrainAds, the personalised retargeting ads, have been performing equally well, says Gal, ‘We’re seeing click-through rates of two to three per cent, and we’re seeing post-click conversion rates of around eight per cent, which is – by any measure – better than anything else in the market.’ Brainient’s own performance is also on the up, ‘We ran about 100 campaigns in 2011 so the traction has been quite good and we expect that to grow exponentially this year’ said Gal.
Personalised TV Ads
So how long before people are likely to start seeing personalised ads on their TVs? ‘I think we’re closer than people think. If you look at eMarketer’s forecasts, by 2014 or 2015, approximately 40 to 50% of the TVs will be connected TVs. It shows people are interested in having their TVs connected to the Internet, and once they’re connected to the Internet you can start doing things with data. We think we might see requests for connected TV ads coming in around Q3 or Q4 of this year,’ he said.