A look at some of the year's most unique and interesting ad units to help prepare you for the year ahead. First in a two-part series.
The end of the year is a time for reflection on the events, adventures, and achievements that shaped the past 12 months. In online media these include important industry developments. You'll see plenty of "year in review" lists out there before 2010 comes to a close, and these have considerable merit where planning for the forthcoming year is concerned. But what about a list that addresses the new ad units that have sprung to life over the past year?
Indeed, numerous new formats and placements were introduced this year. The following summary encompasses some of the most unique and interesting options with the intention of helping digital marketers prepare for the year of planning and buying to come.
January: Adhesion Mobile Ad – Crisp Media
The year began with the launch of one of the many new mobile units we now have at our disposal. In January, Crisp Media made its contribution with Adhesion, a mobile ad that remains fixed to the bottom of the mobile screen even when the user scrolls. The unit supports rich media formats so that advertisers can use it to create expandable mobile ads that feature video, image galleries, movie trailers, or social media links. Marketers can even leverage geographically-targeted "location aware" ads to deliver area-specific product or brand information.
To protect the integrity of the user experience, the ads can be closed entirely if desired. According to Crisp, Adhesion ads outperformed standard banners two to one in A/B testing.
February: Interactive Engagement Suite (IES) – Break Media
The go-to video site for guys, Break.com can be relied upon to deliver memorable home page takeovers and video ads. In February, parent company Break Media enhanced advertising options on the popular site – along with all other Break Media properties, like CagePotato, MadeMan, and Chikipedia, and the Break Media ad network – with the addition of four new ad units.
All video-based, the new formats were designed for marketers who endeavor to "promote a strong brand message, while at the same time achieve maximum reach and efficiency." The videostitial is a full-page, :15 video ad with HD quality video capabilities, while page engage expands to display multiple videos in a full-page format. The video roll plays video upon engagement and comes packaged as a 300x250 rich media unit, and finally, the interactive pre-roll plays a :15 pre-roll video ad before allowing the user to interact with a menu of choices, including watching more video ad content.
If there's one thing a video publisher must make available to its advertisers, it's compelling video ad formats. With these new options, Break Media has given media buyers more than enough to produce an impressive video ad campaign.
March: SmartStitials – Smartclip
Online video ad network Smartclip this year launched a new unit called the SmartStitial, an "impactful online video interstitial format" that delivers a takeover video with branded message prior to initiating the video player. In one example on TopTVBytes, a site that offers clips of "TV's best moments," a SmartStitial ad for the popular "Got Milk?" campaign interjected itself into the user experience upon arrival at the site page.
One of the unit's unique value propositions is that it allows the advertiser to include a logo and brand or product message around the video ad itself. The result is a more comprehensive message and brand experience online.
April: PadMedia Creative Suite – Millennial Media
In an effort to cater to a growing audience of iPad users and get a better handle on all that the device has to offer advertisers, many mobile companies are launching new iPad ad units. Among them is mobile ad network Millenial Media. In April, the company introduced its PadMedia Creative Suite, encompassing both existing mobile units and new iPad options.
With the new program, iPad advertisers can leverage such units as the floating canvas, which gives the user control over where on the screen it expands; the RTP (return-to-play) that pauses entertainment content so that a user can respond to an ad; motion creative, which makes any iPad unit interactive when the user rotates the iPad; and full-page interstitials that appear during application launches and game-play transitions. All the better to reach that male-dominated audience primarily comprised of 35 to 44 year olds.
May: Hyperlink Content – Vibrant Media
We all know Vibrant Media for the in-text contextual ads that appear as highlighted links when scrolled over on a site page. Based on this same concept, the company launched a new Hyperlink Content Division tasked with helping advertisers incorporate actual content into their contextual text ads, instead of just links, display ads, or video. An ad for a consumer packaged goods brand, for example, might pull up a recipe. Ads can also feature tweets, search results, music, maps, and white papers.
Check back next week for an overview of the new units that appeared during the rest of the year, and until then, Happy Holidays!
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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