RealNetworks Secures Ad Clients for RealOne

Following closely on the heels of its announcement of a distribution deal with Compaq, Seattle-based steaming media player RealNetworks also said it’s been successful in attracting several big-name advertisers to its new RealOne service.

Advertisers including Absolut, Honda’s Acura and DeBeers’ adiamondisforever.com have been running spots on the service.

Like other streaming media providers — such as Microsoft Corp., which is RealNetworks’ chief competition — RealNetworks touts its services as a way to combine the branding power of television-like spots with Web ads’ interactivity. Ostensibly, the result is an immersive brand “experience” or a direct-response add-on to repurposed television creative.

Yet streaming media to date has largely been an afterthought for the major online advertisers, by optimistic estimates comprising only about 2 percent of total online advertising spending. And since RealOne charges fees for access — ranging from $9.95 to $19.95 monthly — it’s unclear whether consumers will tolerate advertising on a paid service.

Still, the company said it’s devoted to developing the service as a channel for advertisers. The centerpiece of the company’s offering is its RealOne Player, the successor to its Real Player, which incorporates a Web browser and graphics display areas. As a result, the Player’s ideal advertising format includes not only streaming audio or video, but additional graphics and interactive calls-to-action in separate panels.

“RealNetworks is committed to driving the next generation of Internet advertising, by allowing marketers to go beyond current opportunities on the Net,” said RealNetworks president and chief operating officer Larry Jacobson. “RealOne Player’s unique interface delivers on the promise of interactive media, by offering advertisers ‘engagement advertising’ opportunities that encourage consumers to delve deeper into the advertiser’s brand.”

RealNetworks, which sells ads through news, sports, entertainment and music category buys, did not disclose terms or specifics of the media buys. However, Acura said it was using interactive-enhanced broadcast spots in its ads — and aims to take advantage of streaming media’s techno-savvy audience.

“Acura is excited to be associated with the launch of the RealOne player,” said Ann Palmer, who oversees online media at Acura. “RealOne offers Acura the opportunity to reach a key target market for our vehicles, a technology audience of early adopters.”

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