Written by Jerred Ziegler
Since the early 2000s, toolbars on the internet have been commonplace. These web browser add-ons allow companies to inject their message and ads directly into a web browser, at times regardless of whether the user opts in or not. Patrick Murphy, CEO and founder of Brand Thunder, wanted to take a more transparent approach to web browser add-ons and apply the concept to brands that people are passionate about, like colleges, sports teams and musicians.
“If you’re a brand with a rabid fan base, there’s no need to be as sneaky as some add-on developers who have been around for years,” said Murphy. “If you love a sports team, wear their apparel and have their bumper sticker on your car, why not also put them on the computer screen you stare at for nine hours each day?”
Using Brand Thunder, brands can turn “New Tab” pages into their own mini-sites, with information on their latest events, along with video and text content. The company has proven that users stay on its branded “New Tab” pages an average of eight seconds, with an 18-20% click through rate. So while these pages were viewed as transitional in the past, they are valuable marketing tools with Brand Thunder. The company is currently partnered with over 300 brands.
“If you think of your browser, when opening a new tab you likely see a Google search box and links to six websites you recently visited,” said Murphy. “Why can’t a brand other than Google control that page?”
Murphy started Brand Thunder seven years ago, after working for AOL’s Netscape browser. The company has received $1.2 million in funding from Ohio Third Frontier partners across the state, including Rev1 Ventures and Ohio TechAngels in Columbus, and the North Coast Angel Fund in Cleveland. Murphy used this funding to build the company’s employee infrastructure, develop and evolve its technology, and grow its marketing and sales efforts.
“The funding we received early on from Ohio Third Frontier helped us develop into the self-sufficient company that Brand Thunder is today,” said Murphy. “There’s no way we would have gotten to this point without the support from the state of Ohio, and the foundation they allowed us to put in place.”
In 2016, Brand Thunder will evolve its “New Tab” pages so they are optimized for phones and tablets. The company also plans to introduce a self-serve product that will allow smaller brands to pay a low monthly fee and build their own “New Tab” pages.
Murphy says that Ohio has played a key role in positioning his company for success.
“If this company were located on the west coast or in New York, we’d be a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond. We’d have to fight with huge companies for resources and investment dollars,” said Murphy. “Plus there’s more competition to find and retain good talent. At the end of the day, from Columbus I can hop on a plane to meet with clients in New York or California at any time. My team has a lower cost of living, and we can stand out and get more exposure. I credit a lot of this company’s success to having our home base in Ohio.”