These days, with so many flashing, annoying ads popping up on websites, it’s hard to get people’s attention. And Ben Kartzman, CEO of Spongecell, knows this well. When banner ads on websites first came out, “people would click on the banner ads without knowing where it was taking them,” says Kartzman. And the trust level went down.
Today, advertisers try all kinds of bells and whistles to get people’s attention. Like those ads that blanket the entire screen? Eighty percent of people find them irritating. So how do you reach consumers online?
Enter Kartzman: “Something needs to change…there has to be a better way to engage consumers in this space.”
And so Spongecell was founded. Spongecell provides interactive web ads that you actually want to click on. If you’re on a car buying site, you might see an ad for all the Honda dealers in your area…complete with a map based on where you’re located. You can click on the ad to get the phone numbers and dealership hours. Nothing annoying pops up, and you don’t have to leave the page you’re on. It’s all inside the ad.
This is real innovation in the world of advertising, and the 1,000 plus campaigns Spongecell has developed this year is attribute to the fact. The company thrives on fast turnaround, and can convert a boring Flash ad and make it highly interactive in less than a day. In our “I want it now” society, this formula is built for success.
The possibilities are limitless for Spongecell. With a current diverse client base that runs the gamut from Ciroc Vodka to Hood Dairy Cookoff, they’ve seen just about every industry in their work. And what they can provide is wide reaching as well.
Want your company’s most recent Facebook activity to show up in an ad? No problem. Spongecell can get a real-time list of your status updates built right into that ad. Need to tell everyone it’s Free Fish Taco Day? Spongecell can send a reminder to subscribers’ phones and text messages the day of the event to send them flooding in the doors. Got a premiere of a tv show? You can even push reminders onto subscribers’ Outlook or Google calendars. Neat.
And here’s yet another company who’s spending minimal amounts on marketing. Spongecell, says Kartzman, relies on its sales team to connect with brands and show them the benefit of interactive advertising. They sell primarily to agencies, and raked in more than $1.2 million in revenues in 2009.
Good Days and Bad
Running a startup is a tremendous challenge, as Kartzman well knows: “You’ve got to be honest with yourself and with your customers about where your business is.” He’s seen many startups overpromise and underdeliver, to their own demise. It’s important to know and understand the core goals of your company, so that you can better navigate the inevitable challenges.
“Stay positive because some days are great, and some days are tough,” Kartzman advises.
When asked what’s next for his company, Kartzman says, “we’re really just starting to hit our stride.” He wants to continue to focus on servicing clients, expanding Spongecell’s technology platform, and come up with new and highly relevant functionality.