Unicast Pitches "One-Stop Shop"

  |  July 29, 2002   |  Comments

The rivalry with Eyeblaster and Bluestreak mounts, as the creator of the Superstitial adds Ad4Ever 'takeovers' to its format roster.

Rich media firm Unicast is looking to become the sole provider of third-party formats, introducing a new unit and touting the benefits of standardizing on its platform.

Unicast now will begin offering advertisers "takeover" ads in addition to interstitials and on-page ad formats through a new partnership with Ad4Ever. The agreement, under which Unicast will serve as the exclusive U.S. distributor of AdForever's takeover unit, the TopLayer. Like all takeover ads, the TopLayer briefly covers parts or all of a Web page on load.

Unicast will be taking over Ad4Ever's domestic clients through the deal. Further terms of the arrangement between the two New York-based companies were not disclosed.

Unicast, of course, is best known as the developer of the Superstitial interstitial format. In May, the firm expanded its offerings by acquiring troubled rich media pioneer Enliven, which marketed on-page formats like drop-down banners, animated buttons, and video-enhanced large rectangles. Now, with Ad4Ever's format added to the mix, Unicast is gunning to become the sole provider of third-party rich media to agencies and publishers.

For publishers, consolidating with on one vendor could mean lower licensing fees, greater ease in configuring and trafficking rich media, and less time spent negotiating with vendors -- reducing the time, effort and money it takes to launch a campaign. Agencies, meanwhile, can concentrate on managing and designing creative for a fewer number of formats.

"There are just enormous economic efficiencies, and it will result in making it easier for advertisers to put more money into the Internet, and for site sales people to better serve what advertisers need," said Unicast senior vice president of marketing Allie Savarino. "We believe that this solves problems operationally and sales-wise, so sites can focus on what they need to focus on -- building good content that advertisers want to buy -- and advertisers can focus on advertising and not understanding technology nuances and managing third parties."

The move, however, puts Unicast into greater competition with established rivals like Eyeblaster and Bluestreak -- both of which already offer takeover ads, on-page formats and interstitial-type units. Bluestreak, which has offices in Newport, R.I., even serves as a Superstitial reseller, which it offers in addition to its own interstitial unit.

In addition to serving as a one-stop shop for rich media formats, both Bluestreak and Eyeblaster also focus heavily on providing agencies and publishers ad management technology -- which theoretically could mean even more cost-savings for clients by obviating the need for campaign negotiations with any third-party format vendors.

Coincidentally, New York-based Eyeblaster on Monday released a major upgrade to its rich media ad management ASP for agencies. The update to Version 4.2 includes support for streaming media ads through a partnership with EyeWonder, and a specialized form of takeover ad called the "intromercial" or "commercial break."

The new version of Eyeblaster's service also includes a directory of sites' rich media capabilities and supported sizes, and also more support for third-party campaign effectiveness trackers like Dynamic Logic.

Such offerings, say company executives, provides even greater incentive for support by agencies and publishers.

"The new publisher specifications directory will reduce the time spent on creative negotiations between publishers and agencies, and even internally in each Web site," Eyeblaster Chief Executive Gal Trifon said. "With the addition of the 'commercial break' to Eyeblaster's roster of popular rich media formats ... designers now have even more choices to produce the best creative, and media planners can run their campaigns across more sites with less hassle."

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