Imgur eyes eSports brands as it plans multilingual European expansion

Imgur is rolling out a new ad unit as it carefully plans European expansion / Imgur

Image sharing website Imgur has recently signed deals with advertising sales companies, as the US-based company looks to grow its international presence.

German-based League-M will lead ad sales across Europe. A company based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, eMedia Patch, will support ad sales across Central Europe.

Imgur vice-president of global sales and brand partnerships Bob Huseby said this is a key step forward, as he wants to see Europe represent between 15-20% of the company's total ad revenue. Imgur currently has 250m monthly active users; about 37% of traffic is from the US, and about 23% is from Europe.

Huseby said Imgur’s bread-and-butter product is its branded content unit. However, since these units run in English-only and require “a fair amount of resource allocation” from agencies and Imgur’s creative strategists, Imgur will be launching new ad units in Europe.

Similar to the pop-up displays it ran in a campaign with Rockstar Games, the new headliner units are cross-platform, "high-impact" displays that can run in a country’s native language.

“If somebody sends you a link to an Imgur post and you click on it and end up on our site, it'll be the first thing you see,” said Huseby, explaining headliner units. “It really opens up a lot of our worldwide reach to advertisers.... Because it's sold as a premium unit, it's only sold intermittently. It's not a pervasive experience; it's more of a special, premium experience.”

Since the ad partnerships are still fresh, Huseby said he hasn’t yet approached advertisers with the new offering. But much like the Rockstar deal, Imgur will first target eSports and video game brands to cater to the site’s mostly male millennial audience.

Though Imgur will not be making any new hires overseas, Huseby said the company is working toward offering multilingual branded content units once it has established its European presence.

He added that the branded content format itself will stay the same in non-English speaking markets, but the “copywriting will be critical.”

“We'll probably wade into that part of the business a little bit carefully, and so once we've established a pretty good track record with the client, we will hire local copy writers. We will do everything locally,” Huseby said.

One major challenge to expanding in Europe will be Brexit. Huseby said that Imgur will always have a large presence in English-speaking countries, including the UK, but “while we watch Brexit unfold, we'll be centered out of Germany.”

Florian Lormes, managing director at League-M, said that should Brexit ever come, markets such as Holland, France and Germany will become important European entry points for US businesses.

“Despite the EU, Europe is very fragmented and every market...has its own unwritten market laws, its own budgets, its own decision makers...," said Lormes. "However, a large investment of time and money is necessary to consistently launch in the European market."

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