In the early days of rich media, vendors like Eyeblaster and PointRoll would routinely boast that this portal or that ad network had accepted their formats. When they did so, it was understood that brands and their agencies were behind the embrace.
Since those days, it's been standard practice for advertisers to insist that site owners accept new ad technologies. What hasn't been so routine is for brands and agencies to tell publishers how to present their content. But that's just what happened earlier this summer, when agency OMD -- on behalf of client Nissan -- asked publishers to embrace an innovative photo browsing technology.
OMD wanted to use the product -- from Palo Alto-based software developer Cooliris -- as the backdrop for a campaign promoting Nissan's Infiniti G37 convertible. The technology combines 2D and 3D viewing experiences to allow Web users to browse and view photos much faster than most standard HTML interfaces allow. However users must install a Cooliris client to get the full experience.
"The Cooliris technology speaks to the brand and the [vehicle] we're launching," said Sara Morton, OMD's group director of strategy on Nissan and Infiniti. "Infiniti buyers are trendsetters and design conscious. It fit with the story we're trying to tell about this beautiful convertible vehicle."
OMD met with a number of publisher partners including Yahoo, NYMag.com, Golf.com, CNET, and Men.Style.com, and asked them to create photo slideshows that use the Cooliris product. Within these experiences OMD inserted branded placements for the Infinity G-series "Own the Sky" campaign.
According to Morton, "We said, 'Let's all work together to do something you've never done on your site. Let's create an environment that is an a-ha experience.'"
According to Cooliris, more than 50,000 users install its client every day -- totaling 1.5 million per month. CEO Sashi Seth said the product now has 3.6 million active users. Approximately 26 percent of those are in the U.S.; 25 percent are in Western Europe; and 20 percent of are in large countries like Japan, Brazil, Australia, India, and Russia.
Seth added that ads served within the Cooliris experience get a 2.5 percent "selection rate." In the wake of the Nissan effort, he said Cooliris is now in talks with other agencies and brands -- some of them brought to the table by the same publishers first approached by OMD.
If all goes according to plan, Cooliris could soon appear on many more user desktops. To date, the company's distribution strategy has focused on word of mouth and organic discovery. It's now trying to accelerate adoption by pre-bundling its client onto desktops through partnerships with the manufacturers of netbooks and other devices.
In addition to the Cooliris integration, Infiniti's campaign for the G37 convertible includes mobile, paid search, and streaming video. One innovative component combines user content with direct mail. Working with mobile ad firm MoVoxx, OMD encouraged people to take photos of things that inspire them, then upload the photo to receive a postcard with that image at their home address.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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