Commentary

Don't Forget About Rich Media

  • by June 12, 2007
There are millions of videos being streamed each day, so is it any wonder that so much recent press has revolved around video ads -- pre-rolls, post-rolls, interstitials, etc.? After all, someone has to pay for this limitless entertainment afforded by the YouTubes of the world. It seems a simple leap of logic that video ads ought to be the mechanism to do so. However, in the midst of all this attention for video, it appears that the vast opportunities afforded by rich media have taken a back seat. And it doesn't seem there's any good reason why.

As we all witness the change in advertisers' media mix -- from traditional to interactive -- a real paradigm shift seems to be occurring. Yet for many of these companies and the agencies that guide them, the lure of video ads takes hold. Simply put, it is comfortable and familiar -- the logical transition from a TV spot to the newest vehicle for media consumption. But as has been proven time and again, comfort and familiarity are not necessarily the change agents that allow agencies, advertisers, and brands to emerge from the clutter.

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When agencies first started pitching interactive media as a standalone service to clients, the pitch was idyllic, but also founded in truth. Imagine having the ability to drill down into your advertising impressions to precisely reach your target consumers. Through various demo-targeting capabilities as well as geo-specific Web sites, wasted impressions could be severely limited -- if not completely eradicated. Clients were interested, yet prudent and cost-conscious, fearful of tinkering with the media mix that had dominated their plans of attack for so many years.

At that juncture, we were mainly talking about display ads such as animated GIFs and the now widely reviled pop-up ads. As an added bonus, on top of getting in front of our audience, we were able to see who actually cared about what they were seeing by measuring clicks and click-through rates.

Then rich media crept into the picture, and things changed. Rich media afforded the opportunity to provide a dialogue with users; no longer was it about push media, but rather a two-way relationship where the information and entertainment were there for the user's taking -- or not. Democratic. Simple. Engaging. Informative. And, most important, less annoying!

In fact, these were just the superficial benefits of a rich-media experience. Tracking interaction times, interaction rates, segmented click-through details, and more are all available in real time. We now know how users interact with brands and what they couldn't care less about. Not only could ad creative and placements be optimized, but this tracking could also inform Web site creative, communications positioning and even offline initiatives.

Today, campaigns are constantly evaluated and executions innovated through live streaming in-banners, geo-specific retail conversion opportunities and green screen integration with a single goal of speaking to our target audience in a way that is meaningful, helpful, engaging and seamlessly integrated.

Any agency worth its weight in impressions would be remiss in ignoring what is currently unfolding in the online video ad space. But to be swept up in the hype and seeming ease of transition from traditional to interactive opportunities through video ads is to shortchange our industry. After all, it's called "interactive" for a reason.

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