New Ad Formats To Think About
In the face of dot-com gloom and increasingly falling banner click through rates, Edmunds.com, JackStreet.com and EngineHouse Media are offering some new ways for advertisers to capture eyeballs. And they're bursting with creativity.
Edmunds.com's new, innovative online advertising initiative is a radically different business approach for the company, which has never carried advertising on its site before. Company officials say Edmunds.com decided to adopt rich media ad units because of their enhanced interactivity and functionality available through new technology. For example, some advertising messages will not appear unless the users request them, allowing individuals to filter the type of information they receive.
Edmunds.com offers the rich media advertising after years of inquiries by potential advertisers, who have long recognized Edmunds.com traffic as a highly desirable audience. As well as being highly educated and relatively affluent, 90% of people who express an interest in buying an automobile on the site actually purchase one within 90 days, according to Edmunds.com internal data.
The ads in place this week and rolling out throughout the early spring are part of a pilot program so that Edmunds.com and its advertisers can best determine what works in this new environment. The ad program officially kicks off in mid-May, with many advertisers expected to sign on for extended contracts at that time.
"Some advertising, such as rebates and special offers, is actually valuable content to the savvy shopper," according to Britt Johansson, Director of Web Site Advertising Initiatives. "These ads allow us to deliver targeted, relevant information at every stage of the car purchase and ownership experience, perfectly in line with Edmunds.com's mission to educate shoppers and drivers."
The launch of the ads coincides with next week's launch of Edmunds.com's new site design, which sets up Edmunds.com offerings chronologically for the consumer, from general to targeted research, then through purchase, ownership and finally into the trade-in process. Advertisers have already reacted positively to the opportunity to speak directly with consumers at specific points in their experience. Additionally, the new interactive ad units provide advertisers with more real estate to work with, addressing a common complaint with current online advertising methods.
Concurrently, JackStreet.com has announced the launch of the Buzzcasting Network, an Internet marketing solution that aims to drive customer acquisition cost down by combining the best features of radio broadcasting, viral marketing, interactive customer service and transaction processing to create a new and dramatically less expensive way to acquire new customers.
The system is based on what JackStreet calls The BuzzBox, a window that pops up when requested and plays a professionally-produced interview with a company about its products or services. Borrowing a page from the infomercial concept, the streaming presentation offers answers to frequently asked questions and can provide brand and/or product-specific information such as feature benefits or gift ideas. What takes the BuzzBox far beyond a standard infomercial, is that the BuzzBox lets listeners chat live with the merchant, make an immediate purchase without leaving the screen, and most importantly, allows the listener to pass the entire "interview in a box" on to someone else they think would be interested. And that's what JackStreet calls Buzzcasting.
"We've married something very old with something new, and something very new," says Errol Smith, co-founder of JackStreet. "Word of mouth is as old as civilization. People love to be the first to discover new things and the pride of a great new discovery is fulfilled by telling others. For marketers this is good news because, normally, when a friend tells us to go check something out, most of us do.
"Streaming media, email and online chat are relatively new technologies, but when their best features are combined with word-of-mouth you get a viral marketing cocktail that can effortlessly generate an entire network of new customers and deliver sales to your door at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing channels. But, what's very new and revolutionary about our offering is the cost. We've passed the efficiencies of the technologies we've leveraged onto the end user."
Not just a pretty face anymore, Enginehouse Media's newest technology star, an expandable banner dubbed the XBanner, functions as beautifully as it looks. Featuring the ability to securely pass and receive information from a remote data source, and update banner content on the fly, XBanner completely eliminates the need for conversion pages, landing pages, or even a website.
Laura Tidwell, CEO of Enginehouse Media, said, "It's no secret that banner ads are no longer very effective at driving traffic to websites, and this has become a real problem for many of our direct-response focused clients. But our new technology allows for the entire acquisition process to take place right inside an expandable banner."
What does this mean for advertisers? Tidwell says, "For one thing, it dramatically decreases the attrition rates associated with online advertising. With every click, you loose a percentage of your prospective customers. With the expandable banner, customers can check out inventory or services and then make a purchase quickly, easily, and securely without ever having to leave the site they're on!
"We've had a wonderful response from the web publishers too. The ads are very browser friendly, and unlike other kinds of rich media, don't require any plug-ins or special applications to view them. The best part for web publishers running these ads on their site though, is that the users never leave their site throughout the process."
And to make it even more powerful, advertisers can now update their banner content on the fly without having to upload new creative. "Our clients are in total control over what products or services are offered in the banner at any given time," Tidwell explains. Through remote access, advertisers can make changes to their expandable banner uploading new offers, based on customer response, without the added expense or hassle of creating new ads, or changing their website.
Tidwell reports that the new XBanner is available now. A sample may be viewed by clicking on the following link: www.enginehousemedia.com/showcase/
- Anya Khait may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org