Flash Makes a Splash on Prime Time

Using Internet technology for its recent run of prime time television ads, NetZero, Inc., officials say they have saved the company about $2.1 million in production costs.

The oft-played “Revolution” commercials shown on NBC during the National Basketball Association’s conference finals, and expected to play during the conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76’ers this week, are the end result of Macromedia Flash software.

NetZero, as part of its three-year deal signed with NBC in 1999, has three ads in rotation during the playoffs. According to one company official, roughly $700,000 was saved per ad using the Internet software.

Brian Woods, NetZero’s chief marketing officer, said Macromedia’s Flash has opened the door to increased cost-savings.

“By utilizing technology meant for the Web, our team was able to create a series of ads at a fractio of the normal cost, all the while maintaining the quality and integrity of the creative,” Woods said. “Simply put, NetZero spent roughly two percent of what it normally takes to develop television creative, making the ratio between the ad production costs and media buy incredibly attractive.”

The popular software uses technology specifically designed to deliver dynamic, interactive content for low-bandwidth applications. Until recently, that technology was used chiefly for online advertisements such as banner advertisements.

But the technology has taken off in other directions: the software’s portability has convinced big-name companies to use Flash in other mediums. In addition to NetZero’s TV ads, Sony announced it would start using the technology on its PlayStation 2 titles. The reduced amount of data for the “movie” clips found in the console games is expected to free up space on the DVD disc for more gameplay.

Developers have also used Macromedia’s Flash product to design the Rosie O’Donnell talk show introduction piece, and musicians like Beck and Duran Duran have used Flash for their videos.

According to a Macromedia official, Flash has been into the mainstream for years, it’s just that the alternative uses for the software weren’t promoted.

“Flash has always had the capability to run on other mediums, it’s just something we’ve never promoted before, but people would contact us and say ‘we’re using this for TV’ and we’d be like ‘you’re right, you can use it for that,” the spokesperson said. “Flash is based on vectors, not pixels, making it a superior platform for developers.”

According to a recent report by NPD Online, more than 96 percent of U.S. computers use Flash for viewing their dynamic Web content.

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