Rich Media Relevance

Based on feedback from last week’s article on rich media, it seems there are a few of you out there who have problems with this tool being used in email. So before I launch into the latest and greatest from the rich media providers, let me bring to the table the three biggest objections to rich email:

  • It only works with a live connection. So, if a recipient is reading email offline, the only things that he or she will see are broken links and pages.
  • After recipients get over the uniqueness of emails with streaming video and/or e-commerce capability, they’ll tune out to any subsequent emails utilizing rich media.
  • Rich media takes up too much time and space.

Okay, at the risk of sounding like a volunteer for the Rich Media Awareness Society and Anti-Defamation League, I wanted to respond to these comments.

With regard to the first one sure, there are plenty of people who download their email for future offline reading; but they don’t have to just view broken links and pages. Most rich media solutions providers can set up a special message for those not online. It can be as simple as “If you’d like to experience this dynamic rich media advertisement, please go online.”

And while some of you (especially those with objections to rich media) will surely hit “delete” at this point, I’m still of the opinion that there is a large contingent out there that is open and willing to receive and read such messages. I also believe that making a blanket statement of “No one likes to get rich media advertisements” is pure poppycock. That’s like saying that no one likes to watch TV commercials. Anyone ever hear of the Super Bowl? There’s actually a population out there that only watches it for the ads.

Which brings me to the next objection. Why does that particular population tune into the Super Bowl for the commercials? Because they’re often entertaining, and some people enjoy seeing what the creative minds of the world have just come up with. Same goes for rich media. While rich media in email may not be successful forever, it certainly has its place here and now. And as far as keeping it fresh and creative (as well as, of course, relevant)… well, that’s the perpetual challenge marketers face for any type of advertisement, isn’t it?

It seems to me that marketers should only send out ads (of ANY kind) to those who’ve opted in to receive them. And those who don’t want to receive a rich email can tell immediately when they receive one (without ever having to download anything). All they have to do is hit “delete.” Not a big deal.

Speaking of downloads, most rich media providers send out their promos in very small files (as low as 4k) Typically, the largest parts are streamed in from the providers’ site, if and when the recipients transact or hit “play.” A rich media message needn’t consist of a lengthy 30-second video, after all. It can be as quick as a 5-second how-do-you-do. The fact is bandwidths are indeed becoming bigger; time and space really shouldn’t be issues at all.

So objections (and retorts) aside, what’s new in the world of rich media? The biggest news is, because of the traditional “objection” of rich media’s high time and production costs, a few providers are offering up programs for advertisers to create their own rich media emails. This saves costs on both ends.

BlueStreak’s “On-The-Fly” is a web and Java-based authoring system that allows marketers and agencies to create, access and change campaigns. After the campaign is created, any subsequent changes or updates can be made within minutes in real time.

inChorus offers inChorus Pro, a Windows-based software solution wherein messages can be composed by the marketer and can be modified in a cut-and-paste fashion. inChorus also offers large screen animations for additional impact.

Finally, RadicalMail (considered the pioneer in rich media email) offers RadicalMail Builder. This allows marketers to build their own rich media emails without knowing any programming or HTML.

All seem to have developed user-friendly interfaces. But like any software out there, there’s bound to be a learning curve. Lucky for marketers, that curve seems to be fairly short.

Other rich media players include MindArrow, AudioBase, TMXinteractive and ToggleThis. It seems that new ones are appearing on the market everyday.

So for those of you who’d like to take advantage of the highly-creative and interactive outlet that rich media email offers, I say now’s the time. It’s faster to implement… less costly… and easier to use than ever.

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