Rich Media Ads Get Good Marks for Branding, Recall

Rich media advertising on the Internet presents upside potential for advertisers, particularly on the dimensions of recall and the propensity to click, according to a study by Excite@Home and Ipsos-ASI.

The Rich Media II study, when combined with the Rich Media I study from March, found that broadband rich media advertising has the potential to provide an approximately 22 percent higher recall, an approximately 35 percent increase in propensity to click, and roughly the same likeability as standard banner ads.

Five advertisers participated in Rich Media II — Ford, Lexus, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, and Showtime. The advertisers created three different broadband advertising models: one took users directly to their site (click-to-site), one spawned a microsite (click-to-microsite), and one ad allowed users to interact within the ad unit (click-within).

“In general, we’re looking to this test to teach us more about how to engage consumers in an online selling-entertainment experience,” said Rick King, VP of Marketing and Promotions at Showtime. “More specifically, we are very interested in comparing the performance of broadband versus narrowband advertising from a number of perspectives, ranging from overall interactivity to lead generation.”

The three ad models (click-to-site, click-within, and click-to-microsite) performed about the same in terms of recall on most occasions. A difference was seen in the depth of comprehension that can be enhanced with the click-within and click-to-microsite models. These findings suggest that greater interactivity gives a deeper experience, which can lead to a higher comprehension of marketing messages.

The study also found that consumers are motivated to interact with advertisements because they are seeking a value exchange of information, not because of flashy ads. Message communication and brand perception can be dramatically different between ad models, the study found, implying that the experience behind the click influences a person’s take-away. There is more improved opportunity with a rich media microsite to communicate more information, which leaves a person with a deeper understanding of the message.

“When we compare the data to the Ipsos-ASI narrowband database, we see a slight edge for rich media in terms of recall and propensity to click, but the reverse is true for likeability,” said Marianne Foley, senior VP, Ipsos-ASI. “This is a function of the differences in categories within each database — the narrowband is skewed more toward consumer packaged goods, and the rich media more toward services and high-ticket products. However, when we compare similar categories, rich media emerges with a stronger recall and click advantage, and likeability improves.”

Subscribers to @Home’s broadband cable Internet service also had good things to say about rich media advertising. Seventy percent found the broadband advertising on the @Home service to be just as good or better than television, and 90 percent felt the same for print. Also, in three out of five cases, a single exposure to a rich media ad positively affected brand image.

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