Commentary

Fall, In Love

I've long thought of autumn as my pet season in the city for many reasons: the town never looks cleaner, thanks to a coating of cooked leaves and gusting winds; the soundtrack from Woody Allen's filmography echoes through the streets ("When You're Smiling" a la "Mighty Aphrodite," for instance); and grown men and women, many of whom spent the summer dressing like six-year-olds, have upgraded to age-appropriate fashions. But, more than any other, it's the time of year's bracing temperature--mixing a sense of ease and urgency--that really gets to me, and it's with this mix in mind that I'll run through some of the latest news to affect rich media.

The good people at Dynamic Logic, the online research firm, now offer a service for advertisers to test the effectiveness of online spots prior to launching their campaigns. Called DigitalLink, it shows an ad to 100 consumers and then asks each what they make of the thing, what stands out, and what message they think is imparted.

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EyeWonder released a new ad format that they're calling "Push down expandable." The technology, which can already be seen around the Web, pushes a page's content down when a user chooses to expand the ad, and then slides the stuff back up when the ad collapses.

ComScore Media Metrix's Online Video Ratings reported that over 94 million people in this country--more than half the U.S. online population--watched a streaming video online in June. Over the three months ending in June, the average consumer viewed 73 minutes of streaming video content per month, while 18- to 34-year-old males--catnip to marketers--viewed 84 minutes a month, comScore found.

Speculation continued apace over Apple's video iPod and what it will mean for the world of pre-roll advertising. At the beginning of last week, CBS Digital president Larry Kramer said CBS had reached a deal with Apple to distribute all its free podcasts, from "60 Minutes" to its soap "Guiding Light," via the iTunes Music Store. Later, I asked CBS head rep Dana McClintock whether Kramer's announcement was just a prelude to video content. He told me to get a grip, which I took as a definite maybe. Also, professional blogger Steve Rubel reported on Friday that certain ABC affiliates have begun "vidcasting" some of their content on iTunes. This story will only get more interesting, folks.

Also, Eyeblaster and the online game site WildTangent just released findings that 90 percent of 18- to 34-year-old males would watch a video ad in exchange for free game plays. For the study, researchers surveyed about 1,000 children--and immature adults-- from three different vertical sites. The respondents were asked to watch a brief video ad before playing a free game from WildTangent. Researchers then asked respondents if they minded being served the ad, and whether or not they would return to the site. Most didn't mind. How 'bout that?

Finally, a little compensation for those of you who've stayed with me this long: Two companies, whose names you'd surely recognize, plan on announcing a significant partnership this week that will result in one of the first true mergers of behavioral targeting with rich media. It's potentially an explosive combination, and next week I'll have some industry opinion on the outcome. See you then.

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