Over the last few months, the majority of the industry editorials I've read focused on the general lack of news and new developments in the online advertising industry. They all seemed to suggest marketers are tired of hearing about pop-ups, contextual advertising, and, yes, even paid search.
There may be hope for bored online media planners and buyers yet. A number of companies are working to add some life to the somewhat stagnant pool of media offerings from which we currently draw our ad placements. They're developing technology that could fuel the creation of some pretty appealing new ad units.
The concepts on the drawing board may have what it takes to become the next Eyeblaster Wallpaper Ad or Unicast Full-Screen Superstitial. While we wait to discover their fate, let's take a look at what two such parties are offering. What they have in common may just surprise you.
In my two-part series on advertising in e-newsletters, I talked about various qualities buyers should look for when making a buy. Also be aware of the ad formats available in each newsletter offering. In addition to ensuring prospective newsletters aren't overloaded with ads (as with Web pages, clutter reduces the ads' effectiveness), buyers should choose newsletters featuring the ad format that best meets their budget and needs, such as skyscrapers, text link placements, or content-integrated advertising.
Buyers may soon seek out video ads, a placement that displays a streaming video clip similar to a short TV or radio ad. NetKontent Digital Media currently offers its technology to e-newsletter publishers for use in enhancing newsletter content and for advertising purposes.
According to Paul Racko, CEO of NetKontent, his company creates VideoNewsletters "from the ground up, so [newsletter publishers] can incorporate anything that a client requires: video, Flash buttons/banners, static graphics, text columns, Web links, dynamic content (ASP/PHP/XML), etc." This includes ad placements, which can be customized to meet a newsletter advertiser's needs.
With a placement like this to work with, buyers may soon transfer their clients' TV commercials to e-newsletter placements. Clients will reach an even broader audience and maintain ad message and brand consistency, online and off-.
This technology is so enticing because the user can control video views, as opposed to being subjected to an infinite advertising loop. Though animated banners can be effective online, they can annoy readers who want to concentrate on the content without peripheral vision diversions. User-initiated video ads eliminate this annoyance, thus enhancing the user experience.
ICglobal's eBOARDads are similar, though the company focuses on Web pages as opposed to e-newsletters. These banner-style placements host static and animated ads, along with other options -- "fun extras," such as printable product coupons. The ads also support video footage in what the company calls "dot-spots" (ironically boasting the same name as the drive-to-Web TV ads I mentioned in a previous column). The spots can be used to display commercial-style ads as well as video presentations in multiple languages. Any incorporated video footage can also be selected by users to view at their leisure.
The banners themselves are reminiscent of trivision billboards -- shared placards that rotate every few seconds to display another advertiser's message. Each eBOARDad can accommodate up to 10 advertisers or messages (a capability that might prove useful for companies wishing to promote an entire product line). Wayne Richard, ICglobal's president and CEO, explains each ad "rotation" is measured as an impression or page view. His company tracks user response internally and can report on how site visitors interact with each ad.
This particular ad unit has already been employed by Indy race car driver Greg Ray as a way to give his sponsors some additional exposure on his site. ICglobal just completed beta testing on the system, but if Richard has his way, these ads will be popping up for purchase on ad-supported Web properties soon.
This isn't the first time video and the Internet have merged. E-mercials, often displaying footage from advertisers' TV ads, are now a dime a dozen online. Television ads are being employed by advertisers to drive traffic to the Web. Makes you wonder just where the relationship between these two media will end.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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