Yahoo! to Offer Rich Media Microsites

Web portal Yahoo is aiming to boost its advertising effectiveness after users click an ad, by beefing up its capabilities with rich media microsites.

Microsites — the small, self-contained Web sites that sometimes appear in a dedicated, separate window — have been used for years by the major portals as part of their advertising work for clients. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo, for instance, hosted microsites in connection with campaigns for Subway Restaurants, Ford , and Pepsi , the latter of which enabled visitors to vote on their favorite segment of a Super Bowl ad starring Britney Spears.

Typically, the portal drives a large portion of traffic to those sites from front-page ad placement. But in recent weeks, Yahoo and a number of rivals have been beefing up their rich media partnerships to enhance creatives running within their sites, using eye-catching Macromedia Flash and other forms of animation and interactivity.

Now, by adding that same flashy rich media, video and interactivity to microsites — creating a product it calls AdVision — Yahoo is aiming to maintain users’ interest even after they click through an ad.

“Yahoo AdVision delivers more than simply interaction between marketers and consumers, but rather facilitates a unique branding experience that keeps consumers engaged with a marketing campaign longer than static microsites,” said Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer at the portal. “The development of Yahoo AdVision represents our continued commitment to deliver comprehensive tools and increased value for our marketers and a more dynamic experience for consumers.”

In a way, AdVision also resurrects Yahoo’s stumbling “Vision” initiative, which sought to combine Internet data and streaming video feeds into an encompassing rich media experience for users. Based on Yahoo’s acquisition of Broadcast.com, the effort spawned the portal’s market research site FinanceVision, which ultimately proved prohibitively expensive to maintain. (Another site created through the project, ShoppingVision, remains, although Yahoo seems to have abandoned its rumored intention to roll out other “Vision”-enhanced news sites, such as SportsVision.)

As a result of its connection to the earlier project, a typical AdVision design is reminiscent of FinanceVision — a streaming video window appears in the upper-left corner, while HTML- or Flash-based content resides in panes to the right and below.

So far, Yahoo has said it’s signed clients including Universal Studios and at least one consumer packaged goods company to employ the product.

The company said Universal’s use of AdVision to promote its feature film “The Bourne Identity” generated record numbers of viewers. Yahoo also said that visitors interacted with the microsite for an average of more than four minutes — quadruple the usual time spent on a microsite.

Yahoo said it will be rolling out AdVision again in connection with Universal’s upcoming films “Red Dragon,” “8 Mile,” and “Truth About Charlie.”

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