A Rich Media Great Comes Through

One of my favorite movies is “The Natural.” Roy Hobbs, former baseball great down on his luck, stands by the plate, his bat broken, his stomach bleeding, two outs, two strikes, and the winning run on base. Roy, brought down by evil in the form of his current girlfriend, is suddenly resurrected by the knowledge that good, represented by his youthful sweetheart and the boy who may be his son, is sitting in the stands. The inevitable homerun knocks out the stadium lights as Roy crosses home plate in a shower of sparks. Such is the tale of rich media great Enliven.

Like Roy Hobbs, Enliven seemed down on its luck for most of the year, scaling back on marketing efforts, enduring the equivalent of branding schizophrenia as it underwent one corporate reshuffling after another (ending up under the MatchLogic umbrella), and grappling with the loss of key staff.

Turnaround Time

Under the leadership of VP and General Manager Frank Kashner, things seem to be turning around bigtime for the beleaguered company. First, Enliven has stepped out from MatchLogic’s shadow and is now, once again, responsible for its own profit and loss, although it does still leverage the MatchLogic sales force. And the recent introduction of two new products, Enliven EffectSM and Enliven for Flash, portend not only good things for Enliven but for the industry as a whole.

Up until recently, Enliven for Director has been the company’s workhorse. Creative departments could develop highly interactive banners using familiar tools such as Macromedia. Director. and ship them off to Enliven for conversion into Java-based Enliven ads. In addition, Enliven-specific functionality could be wrapped around the banner. For instance, this process allowed information to be printed directly from the banner.

The core problem, however, is that even with the use of familiar tools such as Director, the ads were more difficult to create and deploy than GIF ads and thus out of the reach of many production houses that had their hands full just creating standard banners. Enter Enliven Effect.

“The value of Effect is for those people who are developing GIF campaigns today but want to add rich media effects to boost results,” says Kashner. “Enliven Effect provides an entry-level way to get started with rich media.”

Enliven Effect works on an ASP model in which developers can upload their GIF campaigns and incorporate templated effects, such as rollovers, lead capture, and printing functionality, in the banners. In addition, it’s easy to make changes and deploy the campaigns. Turnaround time is reportedly one day for the creative and three to five days for publisher deployment.

Something for Narrowband

At @d:tech a few weeks ago, Enliven introduced Enliven for Flash. This gives Flash developers the ability to wrap Enliven functionality around their banner ads and deploy them effortlessly into the hundreds of Enliven-approved sites. The small file size associated with Flash ads makes using Enliven more effective over narrowband connections, but it is not expected to replace traditional Enliven for Director ads: “Enliven for Director continues to be popular,” Kashner reports. “The market is more ready for Enliven for Director than it ever has been.” And while Enliven for Flash will incorporate much of Enliven’s traditional functionally, it is still a subset of what’s available using Enliven for Director.

Although examples of Enliven for Flash are not yet available, you can check out Enliven Effect by clicking here. In this example, a simple GIF banner has incorporated the ability to print additional information directly from the banner utilizing Enliven HardCopy, a service co-developed by Hewlett-Packard and Enliven. For additional examples of what Enliven has been up to over the last year, click here.

In his seminal book “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers,” Geoffrey Moore speaks of the difficulty in moving from early adopters to mass-market clients and suggests developing a very targeted solution to safely make the crossing. With these new products from Enliven, especially Enliven Effect, the company might just have developed the solution needed to bridge the gap in bringing rich media to the masses. We will see. Frank Kashner is at the plate. Here’s the pitch… Is that Randy Newman music I hear?

Did Rich Media Win the Election?

That’s the question I asked the folks from Radical Communication at a recent dinner. Radical delivered a series of political rich media email ads for both sides of the U.S. presidential campaign. I asked them if they had any statistics on how many ads were delivered to Florida and the pass-along rate for each campaign. With the narrow margin of victory and Radical’s proven conversion rate, could rich media have won the election? The folks at Radical, wisely, were mum about the possibility.

Until next week, keep it rich!

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