The Wonder of Rich Media

With the current tempestuous financial atmosphere plaguing many of today’s Internet advertising companies, it was amazing to see how many of them were crawling under the rich media umbrella for protection from the storm at this year’s New York @d:tech.

One of the coolest new technologies I saw came from a company called EyeWonder. EyeWonder has developed a plug-in-less streaming video/audio codec (short for “coding/decoding”) that works using a 25K Java applet. What this means is that advertisers or publishers can now deploy streaming video or audio files without worrying if the viewer has either Windows Media Player or RealPlayer installed. Using Java to stream video substantially increases the reach of a site’s video content to about 90 percent of current web browsers. Of course, none of this means anything if the end result looks choppy, but I was blown away by the quality of the EyeWonder encoding and decoding technology. Take a look at EyeWonder’s web site for a demonstration of its video quality and an example of how to incorporate video effectively on your site.

One of the things that perturbs my friends who don’t work in the Internet industry is my habit of answering their multipage email epistles to me with a two- or three-word answer along the lines of: “Yeah? Cool.” or “Yeah? Bummer!”

Unfortunately I, like everyone else in the industry, receive hundreds of emails every day, and it’s hard to be heartfelt with each response. As a result, with some messages, especially solicitations, I sometimes don’t get around to opening them for weeks (or months), in which case the offer is usually way out of date. This problem is solved with MOJO Mail, a new product from Mediaplex. Mediaplex uses Java objects to tie an email offer with a back-end database that updates the offer when the email is opened. This gives marketers the ability to do real-time tweaks of email offers without having to resend the message.

I met with a very interesting company last week called TrafficMac, whose service could end up being a huge boon to agencies and publishers deploying rich media. Here’s the problem: There are a lot of ad serving products out there that support rich media (such as DoubleClick’s Dart system), but, unfortunately, publishers may not be significantly trained to configure and tag rich media ads to quickly and properly run on those systems. TrafficMac doesn’t do the creative. It doesn’t deliver the ads. But it does make sure that the ads are properly configured and tagged to run seamlessly on whatever ad delivery system the publisher is using. And the price is so reasonable that I find it hard to imagine why any rich media campaign would not utilize TrafficMac’s services and save itself a lot of headaches.

And finally, here’s a company that probably has only a secondary connection to the advertising world but has such a cool 3D technology that I’m compelled to write about it: CyberExtruder. This is an example of one of those technologies that is so intriguing that it forced my wife to stop, look over my shoulder at the computer screen, and say, “Oh! I like that!” High praise indeed, coming from my wife.

CyberExtruder CEO Larry Gardner made the pilgrimage to my new office (the table near the fireplace at the Nyack, New York, Starbucks) to show me a demo of the company’s new product, CyberExtruder 3D, that is geared toward computer game designers. What CyberExtruder does, in a nutshell, is extrude a 3D facial mesh from a single photograph of a person’s face. To see what I mean, and what got my wife so excited, go to the CyberExtruder web site, and make sure that you download the MetaStream viewer. Then click on the link below the photo to see CyberExtruder 3D in action.

CyberExtruder makes it possible for gamers to incorporate their own faces into their favorite 3D video games. The mesh is automatically configured for facial animation, which means that it could easily be incorporated into real-time chat software and instant messaging. In the cutting-edge world of computer gaming, CyberExtruder adds a brand-new twist.

Remember, vendors, if you want me to check out your latest stuff, I’ll be the one drinking the latte grande over by the fire. Until next week, keep it rich!

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