Plan in Reverse for Rich Media Success

Online creative and ad formats have come a long way over the past 24 months. It’s hard to believe some form of rich media now drives nearly 28 percent of all online placements, as a recent DoubleClick report finds. It sure seems as if rich media is on the road to online success.

Of all the reasons we can think of, rapid broadband adoption is likely most responsible for paving the way for more effective creative executions. Who wants to interact with a boring animated GIF when you’ve got all that speed piped into your living room? It’s great to see innovative creative that takes advantage of broader bandwidth.

Is It Worth the Pain?

Although rich media looks great, improves response rates, and makes for happy clients, it’s a miracle we can implement these campaigns without a major pileup. Consider the obstacles when implementing rich media:

  • Lack of uniform file size and production specs between sites, even with the same rich media format

  • Number of rich media vendors vying for leadership in the category
  • Properly leveraged techniques to deliver the core creative idea instead of eye candy
  • Balance of rich media’s intrusiveness, especially audio and video elements
  • Higher production costs as compared to traditional online formats
  • Time requirements for proper implementation
  • Need to constantly troubleshoot ad placements to ensure correct linking, tracking, and performance
  • Implementation of tracking and measurement of in-ad elements and layers

When the moon and stars align and we have enough time to do it properly despite all the above issues, rich media can generate response, return on investment (ROI), and brand impact three to four times greater than other formats.

So how do we overcome the obstacles and leverage the most effective creative formats for our efforts? For your next campaign, try starting at the end.

Design Success Through Results

Before you write that first line of online media strategy or complete a creative brief, start your next campaign by fully developing the post report. (Yup, I said “post report,” the item you trot out at the end of a major campaign to prove your worth and lobby for more dollars and the next campaign.) Charting out all the data elements you need to compile an insightful, complete view of the campaign will help determine many tactical factors within rich media.

Ask yourself:

  • What data elements will really help complete the customer interaction picture?

  • What steps are really needed to understand how to improve conversion?
  • What data is really not necessary and will be a waste of time and energy to collect and report?

After mapping out the report and corresponding targets within the client’s site, share the information. Perhaps include it in the actual creative and media briefs before the rich media ads have concepts or media plans.

Consider mapping the information in a “data tree” so team members better understand how specific elements are interconnected. Start with primary interaction points in the ad. Reflect various ways a customer can navigate the content elements within the execution.

This allows creatives to see through to the end result of the execution and provides media planners with the scope and level of rich media “richness” necessary to achieve campaign goals. This process is also a start on a quality assurance (QA) list for the production team so it can double-check components throughout the development and trafficking processes.

New Hope on the Horizon

Tighter integration of rich media formats with ad technologies (such as the DoubleClick/Macromedia alliance) will hopefully level the bumps in the road. Until that time, start your next campaign in reverse. Design your success metrics, and you should have a smoother ride.

Side Note: Tchotchke Winner

A recent column noted an uptick in promo items and gifts as a possible sign online advertising is on the rebound. McRobert Meek, director of online marketing at MemberWorks, was the first reader to correctly note the origin of “tchotchke” is the Yiddish tshatshke (trinket), adapted from Slavic. Thanks, everyone, for your responses.

Meet James at the Jupiter ClickZ Advertising Forum in New York City on July 30 and 31.

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