Sun Runs Rich Media Push for Product Launch

Sun Microsystems launched an online ad campaign to drive viewers to the Webcast of its quarterly product launch meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The push featured a variety of awareness measures. Two weeks ago, Sun began advertising the event on its site and in select online ads. The ads drove users to a splash page to sign up for an email reminder of the event. In addition, Sun ran a wireless campaign with AvantGo the encouraged users to download a reminder of the event to their calendars.

The preliminary awareness campaign was followed by a two-day push during the event, which encouraged users to go directly to the Web cast. Sun ran ads on News.com, WSJ.com, parts of Yahoo, eWeek.com, and other technology-focused Web sites.

The ads offer users the chance to see the Network Computing 03 meeting agenda, a brief bio of the speakers, and a button to attend the Web cast briefing. The ad also has a button for tomorrow’s live Web chat with Sun CEO Scott McNealy at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

Sun has run similar online campaigns for its two previous product launch Web casts. In February, it launched its Network Computing Webcast series with a number of online execution that encouraged users to visit the Webcast between 9 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The ads included a homepage takeover of Forbes.com, a first for the site.

“These quarterly events are great ways for us to deliver heavy flights of advertising,” said Scott Anderson, director of e-marketing at Sun. “It’s great for building awareness and driving volumes of our audience to these events.”

Anderson said the online campaigns allow Sun to target technology professionals and business executives during the work hours. He said about half of the 70,000 people who watch the product launch Web casts arrive via the online ads.

The Sun campaigns have also sought to drive users to specific events, in this case its unveiling of new product offerings. The ads tout the keynote addresses McNealy and Sun software group head Jonathan Schwartz are slated to give keynote addresses. In its February Webcast, Sun expected to receive 100,000 visitors.

In one exectution on CNET Networks’ News.com, Sun ran a five-second Flash introduction before the ad retreats to a unit that runs both above and to the right of the site’s lead story. Called an “archway” unit, it was designed by Sun agency Beyond Interactive using Flash and Eyeblaster’s commercial break format. Sun plans to run two archway ads on News.com this week.

The archway unit is meant for advertisers looking to make a big splash with readers while still offering different levels of information, according to Greg Mason, executive vice president of sales and marketing for CNET.

“It’s specifically designed around launch activities,” he said. “It gives a whole lot of real estate to be able to provide different entry points to the user.”

The archway is the second new branding unit rolled out by CNET Networks recently in conjunction with a Sun campaign. In June, News.com carried its first “intromercial,” a five-second rich media unit that plays before the front page loads.

“We’re always looking for something new and innovative,” Anderson said.

Earlier this week, CNET overhauled the News.com site, changing its structure to better suit research into what topics were most popular with readers. Nearly all pages now feature only a single ad unit, a large rectangle at the upper right hand side of the page. Mason said CNET still sold some leaderboard ads on News.com, but no longer offered skyscrapers.

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