Commentary

Rich Media: How To Make It Work For You

From polite banners and expandable ad units to newer creative executions like full-page video ads, rich media offers marketers tremendous potential for the marketing mix.

A recent Kagan Research report forecasts rich media will be the fastest growing area of Internet advertising from 2006-2015, with the category having topped $1 billion in 2005.

This expected growth is a continuing validation of rich media as a viable and effective way to reach audiences and build brands. Rich media has become astandard of online display advertising for companies in automotive, consumer goods, entertainment, financial services, healthcare and more, due to its unsurpassed delivery capabilities, flexibility and ROI.

A Win-Win for Advertisers and Consumers

In part, the popularity of rich media stems from its acceptance by users as an engaging, entertaining way to interact with brands--in stark contrast to the intrusive and invasive nature of interstitial ads like pop-ups. With rich media, publishers can provide cleaner online environments, enabling advertisers to engage with the consumer based on his or her level of interest in seeing the content.

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Rich media has also proven to generate much higher CTRs than static online advertising. However, the value of rich media exposures for advertisers extends beyond just CTRs, because rich media allows users to interact with the brand via the ad unit--without having to leave a given Web site. Data and reporting on this interaction paint a robust picture on the back end that gives marketers intelligence to optimize the impact of their online campaigns.

An Integrated Digital Solution Delivers Optimal Results

Advertisers and marketers may still wonder how to best leverage rich media in their digital media mix. Consider the following tips carefully.

Use a single, centralized source for campaign management. Today's ad campaigns are multichannel, multimedia and span geographical boundaries, making them more complicated than ever. Choosing the right integrated tools to help create, serve and manage multiple campaigns in real time, on a global scale, can mean the key to successful marketing integration.

From creating and serving ads to tracking performance, a solution should provide creative flexibility, support multiple formats and allow access to a broad spectrum of publishers. A process that combines the ability to quickly and easily create ads and preview them to gain client and publisher approvals should be a standard offering, as should comprehensive reporting and expert client service to help navigate the technical landscape involved in campaign management

Flexibility. Whether a marketer is tech-savvy or needs a turnkey approach, it's ideal to look for a partner that can provide flexible tools that add up to a comprehensive, best-in-breed solution. Also look for a partner that understands the industry and anticipates changes proactively.

The Future of Rich Media

Rich media has seen an exciting growth period but has an even more exciting future. As media companies continue to roll out online-only content, there is tremendous potential for video advertising in multiple formats. Video enables advertisers to repurpose their broadcast assets, providing far more functionality and a rich, detailed picture of marketing effectiveness.

Other directions for the future include integrating search with display, incorporating rich media on mobile devices and handhelds and in-game advertising.

Certain priorities, however, should stay constant. As in the offline world, effective campaigns are all about knowing where users are and how to reach and engage them. The difference in the online world is fully understanding capabilities of technologies like rich media that can bring creative to life and help achieve the objectives and goals of any given marketing campaign.

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