Short Takes: Vibrant Taps New CEO, Looks Beyond In-Text

 

Vibrant Media, sometimes known as the green-underline people, has a new CEO, former About chief executive Cella Irvine. She takes over from Vibrant founder Doug Stevenson, who left the company in July.

The move comes at an interesting time for Vibrant. It is in the midst of moving its business from being primarily about in-text advertising, denoted with double-green underlines, into one that’s pushing an array of contextual ad products. Vibrant is running in-line contextual ads on photos, expanding its banner business and rolling out toolbars for publishers to create more inventory. The idea is to turn its in-page targeting engine, which matches keywords with relevant ads for in-text placements, into a broader ad business.

That’s probably the only way for Vibrant to move from being a nice, reliably profitable but relatively small company into the big leagues of ad tech companies slated for a public offering or a huge acquisition. It will also bring it far greater competition, with a raft of companies looking to monetize publisher photos and companies like Meebo offering toolbars.

Irvine was CEO of About for three years, joining The New York Times Co subsidiary from Digitas, where she was chief administrative officer. She stepped down from About in May as the unit struggled dealing with the aftereffects of Google’s algorithm change, which downgraded many About pages from Google’s search results.

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