Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee

The concept behind this column is to take one technology at a time and then beat it into the ground, article after article, until we’ve exhausted the topic. We are now in our fifth column about “floating ad’ technologies and we still have one more to go. This week we are going to grab for the gusto and cover two of the big three companies in floating ad space: United Virtualities and Ad4ever.

Actually, although we are using the term “floating ad” to describe these technologies, the vendors themselves would most likely object to the designation. All of them see themselves as much more inclusive than that and find the term “floating ads” to be too limiting in describing their technology. They are certainly right, as our examination of AdInterax and CheckM8 in past articles have indicated. And yet it is this ad type, that seems to float across the screen, obscuring the content below it, that has captured people’s imaginations (nearly two years ago now) and it is still the effect that most people think of when they talk about these vendors.



Even the term “floating ad” is up for debate. Quite frankly, there is no standardized term that describes these types of ads. It is also know as a DHTML ad, a “layered ad”, and so forth. The technology was made possible by a series of browser enhancements developed by Microsoft for its Internet Explorer web browser. Known as DHTML or Dynamic HTML, it allowed for content to be created and deployed in “layer” above the HTML content. Netscape also supports DHTML but not in exactly the same way as IE, which is the reason most of these companies didn’t originally support the Netscape browser (with United Virtualities being the exception and then only after some fancy footwork and an additional cost). They also don’t support the Mac very well either, which is due to limited support for the combination of Macromedia Flash and DHTML on the Mac platform. And it is this combination of Macromedia Flash and DHTML that gives these ads their unique flavor.

While historically Eyeblaster (which we will cover next week) was the first to heavily brand themselves here in the United States, both United Virtualities and Ad4ever have been around for years and have the patents and patent pending technology to prove it. And yes, there is a difference between these technologies that sets them apart from each other, making one or the other more suitable for a campaign depending on the requirements.

United Virtualities, for instance, has differentiated themselves via their strong hands on production skills. It is perfect for media buying shops like Earthquake Media (which recommended it for the Band of Brothers campaign on, who outsource creative. Shoskeles (the UV product name) also work on the Mac platform and Netscape browser. Serving costs are a $5 CPM and optional additional costs can include making the ad universal (compatible with Mac, Netscape, Linux, etc) for $5,000, additional Flash optimization for $1,000, or complete creative development (storyboard must be supplied) for $3,000. The latest news with UV is their backend campaign management tool which has been designed to make it easier to work with UV ad units than it has in the past. The tool includes an automated email alert system and drag and drop interface for easy visual ad placement on the page. There is no license fee for the tool.

The big news for Ad4ever is it’s absorption into the Unicast juggernaut, at least here in the US. Unicast recently announced that it would be the sole reseller of the Ad4ever technology in the United States and has proceeded to not only re-brand the Ad4ever “Top Layer” technology (now known as “Over-page”) as part its newly devised product suite but to promote the patented Ad4ever 3 part ad delivery mechanism (teaser, reminder, and main interaction) as a universal standard. Unicast will now be the sole point of contact for buyers of the technology and will be bundled as part of its product suite consisting of Ad4ever Top Layer technology (now known as Over-Page), the Superstitial (now known as In Between-Page) and the recently acquired Enliven technology (now know as In-Page).

And that leaves me Out-of-Page. Next week we wrap up our conversation on “floating ads” and move on to something completely new.

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