Art + Culture

Q+A: James Walthall, Digital Branding

Digital Branding has been around for some 12 years. They moved to DUMBO last April, opening a (gorgeous!) office at 20 Jay St. We sat down with James Walthall, Managing Member at Digital Branding, to learn more about what they do, and why they moved to Dumbo.

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Tell us about Digital Branding, what is it about? What services do you offer?

Digital Branding provides advertising services for brands seeking to reach out nationwide to primary grocery shoppers, heads of households, and regular everyday Americans. We have large scale content newsletters that are both fun and engaging, with a subscriber base of over 35 million members across all of our products.

How did Digital Branding start?

It started in 2004 as a dorm room project that went viral, before the world knew what Facebook and Twitter were. I had built a guest book plugin for AOL Instant Messenger that got fast adoption. When I saw that I had so many users using my product, I started researching if there was a way to make money with web traffic. Once I placed my first ad in the footer of the guest book, the rest became history. Before long, I was making actual websites and monetizing them with the advertising strategies that I learned from my first experience.

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What are some previous or upcoming projects/campaigns that you are particularly proud of?

One project that seems to be getting a lot of new attention is ToastyEgg. ToastyEgg is a site where subscribers can visit and enter a myriad of fun sweepstakes. The newsletter has a caring & loving personality that speaks to its readers with positivity and inspiration. This has created a really loyal and engaging user base that we haven’t seen before. They love coming to play the games and check out what new posts are up, but at the same time they feel appreciated for doing so. As a result, brand ambassadorship has been very strong for this product.

Why did you choose DUMBO as one of your locations?

We had an office in the Financial District for 3 years. While the neighborhood had a lot going on, it didn’t have the type of vibe that we thought best represented us. DUMBO is full of creative, hardworking and fun people that like to think outside of the box. The culture here really jives well with our company, plus it’s pretty easy for clients to stop by for a visit and catch a nice walk on the waterfront before heading back into the depths of Manhattan. Plus, I never biked to work when I lived in Manhattan. I do it all the time now.

How has being based in DUMBO helped your business?

I think the largest change has been less about DUMBO specifically, but more about the space in which we work. Two Trees puts out a great product with regard to rentable spaces. We have a large open office with great and inviting hallways, windows that open fully, and tons of light. Our company happiness factor has gone up substantially since moving here. For people that know what DUMBO is, when they hear we’re in DUMBO now, they think “oh that’s cool.” We never got that reaction in our previous location.

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What is your favorite place in DUMBO?

While the Equinox addition has really upped my gym game, I have to say hands down my favorite place here is Al Mar restaurant on Front Street. I’ve gone only for breakfast and lunch, but it’s a super simple place to take a client or have a quick bite. You can get in and out in about 30-45 minutes, and their menu has a lot of flexible options (healthy and unhealthy) depending on your mood that day. It’s a wonderful thing be able to stop in for a quick meal that’s both solid and delicious. Keep in mind that they’re cash only, and a lunch meal (without drinks) will run you about $20/person all-in.