graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Rich Media Advertising: The Future is Bright

In an encouraging report released today, internet advertising is at an all-time high at $2.3 billion for the first quarter of 2004.

In an encouraging report released today, internet advertising is at an all-time high at $2.3 billion for the first quarter of 2004. This is significant in that it not only breaks all previous records (going back to 1996), but that it portends a positive short term future.

Digging a little deeper, we also find that interactive advertising is making huge leaps and bounds. A recent report from DoubleClick (just about the biggest ad server out there) showed rich media ads jumping from 27.8% of impressions to almost 40%, and a study from Dynamic Logic MarketNorms shows interactive ads doubling performance for advertisers across a variety of metrics, including message association and purchase intent.

This is some very interesting stuff. While static banners continue to morph (leaderboards sized at 728×90 have seen a 900% jump throughout 2003), they are losing ground in terms of sheer clicks. With Google now experimenting with contextual image ads, it is only a matter of time before they begin distributing interactive ads created with technologies like Flash and Java.

I think in the very near future we can expect dynamically generated interactive ads. Sites that have password-required content (ie New York Times) will personalize a series of Flash ads with the subscriber name, then easily swap out on the merchandise depending on what the user is reading. Imagine viewing an article on the new Lord of the Rings movie. An ad from Amazon displays the original JRR Tolkien books with your name inserted directly into the copy — “Mr. Smith, get the complete trilogy today for 25% off list price!” (Not unlike the scene from Minority Report, where Tom Cruise walks through the mall and each ad speaks to him with a personalized message.)

Sites that jump on this technology will do very well indeed — even better than the first adopters of Google’s AdSense.

commentary + criticism

Paul D

wrote the following on Monday December 20, 2004

”..it is only a matter of time before [Google] begin distributing interactive ads created with technologies like Flash and Java.”

I disagree. Google has shown remarkable restraint, proving to the marketplace that well-targed, unobtrusive text ads are more effective than intrusive media ads. The Google brand relies hugely on trust, and people trust Google not to assail them with blinking banners and pop-ups, nor to sell search results to the highest bidder. Google is a unique company.

Besides, I think we’re already at the peak of the intrusive web ad craze. All that crap has driven me to use Firefox with its adblock extension. I haven’t seen an intrusive Flash ad in weeks, and I haven’t seen a pop-up in over a year.

I think “rich media advertising” will make clueless marketing executives salivate, but it will be a real-world failure. You can only trick, cajole, and harrass people into viewing annoying ads for so long, before people either find a way to block it, or visit sites that don’t have it.

The future may well be Google-style smart text ads for non-commercial sites. For shopping sites, Amazon’s got the right idea with their Listmania, their Recommendations, and the way they suggest products similar to the ones you’re viewing. The future of successful advertising is cleverness and relevance, not Java or Flash, and not annoying your customers to hell.

Willem

wrote the following on Monday December 20, 2004

The thing is, in the LOTR example given, I’m not sure whether ‘targeted advertising’ is a problem. It’s very likely that I would be somewhat interested in aquiring the ROTK video or DVD.

It’s the appearance of my name that I find unattractive. That’s like having salesmen coming at my door, as opposed to seeing a big billboard at the train stations and next to highway exits/entries. That’s the ‘invasion of privacy’ part.

I’m sure that I will get what I will get, and not anything else, and all I need to get it is a reminder. Advertising should revolve around “be aware that X is here, don’t forget me” not “BUY X OR DIE. CONSUME! CONSUME!”

I don’t have the numbers to support it, but isn’t it logical to assume that the second method will only yield marginally higher sales?