In case you haven't noticed, rich media is taking over the Web.
I remember a time when online rich media, whether a floating ad, interstitial, or "full-page overlay," was an event. These spawned excited discussion and analysis in the office.
These days, they're ubiquitous. In early June, DoubleClick reported 20 percent of the two billion ads it serves daily are rich media. Doug Knopper, vice president and general manager of advertising solutions at DoubleClick, was quoted as saying the ongoing growth of rich media reflects "the increasing sophistication and performance of the online advertising medium." The company also reported these creative ad formats are generating an average CTR six times higher than standard online ads. Even traditional advertisers are happily embracing this engaging form of advertising. This after holding out for highly effective online methods that allow them to flex creative muscle. Online ads are now comparable to memorable offline media placements.
Consider an advertiser such as the Florida Department of Citrus. It recently looked for a way to introduce "Florida Orange Juice. The best start under the sun." to its target audience online. Like most traditional advertisers, the company wanted to create a rich and memorable user experience, one that would also educate consumers about the values of its product. It didn't want to have to drive them to its Web site. Like all advertisers, it wanted to maximize its budget and measure branding impact and direct response. The solution? Develop a test campaign using rich media ads to determine the value of using the Net as a branding medium.
To ensure all its objectives would be met, Florida Orange Juice partnered with Eyeblaster, a New York-based rich media ad management platform that facilitates the use of online rich media for advertisers, agencies, and site publishers. Creative units were developed in the form of floating ads and full-page overlays, all true to the campaign theme and employing the visual concept of the "pour." Orange juice poured into glasses or onto the Web page itself, filling the entire screen. Ads were placed on sites catering to the target audience, including Better Homes and Gardens, iVillage, Ladies' Home Journal, and Parents.com. They ran for nearly five consecutive months.
Results were tracked by both Eyeblaster and DoubleClick. Branding impact was measured using DynamicLogic's AdIndex research application. Eyeblaster recently released a campaign case study. Here are some remarkable results:
The campaign also employed standard ad formats, such as banners and skyscrapers, but Dynamic Logic reported the Eyeblaster units "were the most powerful ad unit in this campaign." What made them outperform the more static ads? Dynamic Logic maintains "ad prominence and size were factors in its strong performance."
The moral of the story, in which a big offline name advertiser gives rich media a try? Proof rich media ads can generate outstanding results.
One hopes other traditional advertisers will see this campaign as further evidence of online advertising's real potential, both for building brand awareness online and for supplementing offline media efforts with successful results. Florida Orange Juice has been converted. It plans to extend its Internet advertising efforts.
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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.