InternetUniversity: Rich Media Advertising

Rich media advertising is all the rage today, but what does it really mean and where did it come from? Quite simply, rich media is anything even slightly more sophisticated than the basic animated GIF banners you see plastered all over the web today, all the way to integrated ads that show a thirty second movie trailer followed by an interactive behind-the-scenes tour where the user could buy merchandise on the spot.

Rich media ads are an evolution of the animated GIFs, which are easy to create and, more importantly, small in size—so there’s no fear of making web users wait for ads to download. Sure, the running monkey worked for a while, but then web users got over the novelty and advertisers were forced to come up with something better to get their attention. Now, compared to the pitiful banner click-throughs, rich media formats the likes of SUPERSTITIALs, Net-Mercials, Webmercials and many others are taking the ad world by storm.

One of the big players in the field is Macromedia, whose Flash ads can be served up to anybody on the net, similar to a banner, providing that the user’s browser has a Flash plug-in, a 165k browser add-on that allows users to play Flash productions.

Interstitials is a blanket term for pop up ads and up until a few months ago you’d be hard pressed to find a wide-enough array of sites that supported Interstitials. However, as more sites and ad networks are accepting various interstitial formats, it’s important to differentiate between the many types of these lively creatures, including: • Daughter windows open like a second browser when the user clicks on a banner. • Pop-up windows appear when a user enters a new page. • Splash screens appear within the browser, reinforcing the message or introducing the site. • SUPERSTITIALs load in the background and play after the user has seen a web page.

Since the beginning, the Internet has never stopped evolving and thus the current rich media formats are just that – current. Whatever comes to the ad market in the near future will undoubtedly become the next craze, much like the banner initially did. So when it comes to rich media, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how sophisticated your creative is, it won’t make up for poor targeting.

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