How can publishers make mobile advertising more interesting and less intrusive? For Time Inc., one bet is a new ad unit called Double Snap, which the publishing giant will use to promote the Toyota Avalon this week on the mobile websites of People, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly.
Here's how Double Snap works. A small Toyota banner ad follows a user as they scroll down a page to see more content. Then about halfway down the page, the mini banner "snaps" into a larger ad. A few bolts of lightning later, the whole thing transforms into a richer, interactive spot—it's large, but doesn't take over the whole page. Continue scrolling down the page, and the ad moves out of the way. Scroll back up to the top, and the ad unsnaps and reverts to the two original units.
Solomon Masch, director of mobile sales and strategy at Time Inc., said the ad format is intended to be eye-catching but not overbearing, which is why it never totally obscures the content featured on those websites. "It never overlays the content, never takes you away from the content," he told Adweek. But it's also "impossible to miss," he added.
Mobile is an intimate platform, Masch argued, so a balance must be struck between the marketer's message and the user's experience.
"We think we have cracked the code with this," he said, adding that the company hopes the ad unit "is something that takes off" and can be used again going forward.
Samantha Johnson, communications director for Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles, Toyota's lead creative agency, said the Double Snap ad unit was a way for the brand to get across its message in an intriguing way.
"If we can engage consumers in new ways and bring them into the brand family, I think that's successful," she said.