What’s New Out There (Part 2)?

Last time, I finally buckled under tremendous pressure and wrote the cop-out article: just a simple overview of some new and exciting things going on out there. There was so much to write about, however, that I was unable to squeeze it all into a single article. And thus part two was born.

Incentives, Loyalty, and Promotion Management

I first ran into a company called COOVi at last year’s @d:tech Exhibition in New York. The booth was manned by perhaps the most passionate and energetic group of guys I have ever seen. And I quickly discovered that they had good reason to be so excited — they’ve got a great product.

From the end-user perspective, COOVi provides a Web-based “portfolio” that can store just about anything that a marketer wants to give you: coupons, video and audio clips, game pieces, and so on. In its simplest form, it allows a user to see a banner ad containing a coupon and click to save it automatically to his or her portfolio. The user can then go back at his or her leisure and redeem the coupon from that portfolio.

From a marketer’s perspective, COOVi represents an incredibly powerful and flexible platform for communicating with customers and potential customers. It empowers the user to take advantage of offers on his or her schedule. And it gives marketers the ability to build very flexible promotions, giveaways, incentives, and so on.

This concept of a centralized portfolio is not new — e-wallets and services such as coolsavings.com have been around for some time. But COOVi, as well as similar offerings from Texas-based CyberDrawer, seeks to push things further. In fact, COOVi is already enabling cross-media promotions by not only powering online solutions but also allowing marketers to COOVi-enable TV, radio, print, and so on.

Poindexter Systems

Formerly known as ru4, Poindexter Systems offers what it calls a “mass customization” technology. The core product is an ad generator that allows online ads to intelligently adapt to individual users. The system can connect to just about any data feed available from the advertiser or any third party. Marketers can also take advantage of Poindexter’s user-profile database, which it claims includes more than 70 percent of Web traffic.

The simplest examples of how this capability might be used are illustrations that many of us have seen before: for example, pulling regularly updated news stories from a database and allowing dynamic price promotion within the banner ad for an airline.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Poindexter can loop in any data feed — geographic data might allow the airline to deliver ads featuring fares for trips starting from the user’s home city; an electronics company could deliver ads for different product lines based on demographic and psychographic profiles; an international company could deliver ads in the users’ native language.

One of the most powerful illustrations of a clever way to use this type of technology is on the Poindexter site. A fictional online bookseller could create the ultimate promotional piece, which adapts based on the user’s past behavior. If the user has never been to the site, the banner would simply display the week’s best-selling book. If the user has been to the site and put items in the shopping cart but did not purchase, the banner could feature those items with an offer for 20 percent off. And if the user has made a purchase, it could suggest books of similar interest.

The flexibility of this system is limited only by the available data feeds and the marketer’s imagination.

Viewpoint

If you follow the rich media world, you’ve probably seen Bill McCloskey‘s numerous articles on these guys. Viewpoint offers a plug-in-based technology that delivers impressive, beautiful 3D graphics and animation at small file sizes.

In addition to rolling out new features such as ZoomView (which allows users to zoom in on Viewpoint objects) and HyperView (which allows windowless display of Viewpoint content, even on top of other objects, such as HTML text), Viewpoint has recently signed a distribution deal with AOL.

The biggest knock against plug-in-based technologies is distribution. Advertisers will not invest in a technology that only a small portion of the market can view. This plagued Flash early on and was an initial hurdle for RealNetworks as well. But thanks to some very smart distribution deals, those two plug-ins are now practically ubiquitous; Viewpoint is on the right track by getting the plug-in bundled with forthcoming versions of AOL.

I could never hope to cover in this space ALL of the exciting rich media developments out there. I hope that I’ve at least touched on something new to you. Until next time, keep the comments coming.

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