by Seth Fineberg
It has been proven time and time again, during the Web’s short history, that people do not or will not interact with ads just because they can. And now that advertisers are under more pressure to be results-oriented, the "click through" from the standard banner may have seen its final days as a measurement tool. If this is the case, things could actually give way to accountable advertising those that produce sales leads or sales themselves and are actually proven to be interesting to individuals.
The promise of the Web as the ultimate one-to-one medium, for most advertisers anyway, has yet to be fulfilled. Like it or not, Web advertising is still largely one-to-many. Following users around with cookies and the like just to deliver an ad they will likely ignore is not individual targeting, and it is just not paying off. This is why some of the more promising new offerings from last week’s @d:Tech World conference came from wireless, rich media, and targeted messaging ad technologies and services.
Offers in Your Palm
There is no ignoring all of the buzz wireless advertising is receiving, yet at the same time too many people don’t know what it is; probably because there aren’t that many users of wireless products in this country. Imagine delivering not only a message, but an offer that can be measured, redeemed, and individualized. Even more than that, ads people will ask for. This is what has agencies and technology providers so excited about the promise of wireless advertising.
Companies such as AdForce, Advertising.com, AvantGo, GeePS.com, Lot21, and SF Interactive are among the growing numbers that have made news lately with their efforts to not only deliver ads over cell phones PalmTM, and other wireless devices and help establish standards for doing so. (See these articles to help catch up: 4/25, 3/28, 2/8 )
The latest of such offerings, announced at the @d:Tech conference, came from advertising solutions company L90. The company’s new service, L90| To Go, is not unlike others of its kind. It is based on adMonitorTM, L90's proprietary ad serving and tracking technology, and it helps businesses that want to reach consumers who use popular wireless devices, such as PalmTM VII's or Internet-enabled cell phones.
To subscribe, individuals are invited to enter personal preferences on an L90|ToGo co-branded website and sync the information to their wireless appliance. At any time and from any location, consumers can order products and services from the business via a wireless transmission. In turn, the business can send ongoing, highly targeted messages or information about special offers to the subscriber's wireless device.
Web content performance-enhancing technologies are not unlike steroids for athletes. They "bulk up" online ads and add strength to offerings through richer graphics and, more importantly, the ability to accomplish accountable marketing objectives such as collecting sales leads and closing sales right in the ad.
The newer offerings in this department are more into attention grabbing with size and motion; the new word for this is Advertainment and the following names are the just a few that plan to bring it to the Web shortly:
IAd Technology Inc. (http://www.iad.com/) is pushing its ADVENTURE SITE technology to capture user attention. It is only 90 percent complete, but the company claims this technology can enable consumers to interact with products on websites. For example, and ADVENTURE SITE will feature a car. Users interested in this car can manipulate the color and any features of the advertised car. This technology seems mainly optimized for high-speed environments. While they are being entertained by this feature, IAd collects information on product preferences to be used by marketers in print, TV and Web campaigns.
1stUp.com offers another data-collecting, rich media technology called Webmercials. These supposedly "TV-quality" ads combine audio and video at any connection speed. Unlike most Web ads, they are shown while users are waiting to dial-up and access the Web (typically 30 seconds or more). The Webmercials are downloaded on each user’s computer during a previous session. Since most of the Web is still dialing up, perhaps advertisers will be interested until broadband takes over and no dial-up is needed.
Lightningcast is a company that is mainly focused on serving ads during streamed events or webcasts. When people log onto sites to listen to radio broadcasts or other streamed audio events, Lightningcast will deliver a "targeted" audio ad.
Get the Message Now
Advertisers talking about delivering "targeted messages" or the "right message," but it online the message itself has been a vague concept; one that was likely hatched up in ad agency boardrooms long before the Web existed. This is probably why the founders of iWeb opted for the direct approach.
Established in 1998, iWeb is trying to gain more awareness for its iNotes technology. With iNotes, ads or messages are displayed floating across the top of a computer screen over the toolbar. These simple text messages can be news, events, or actual ads relevant to a user’s preference. For example, an ISP can announce new services and products as well as inform users, in real time, of network problems and the like. iNotes supposedly also feature animation, audio, and video without a download.
These technologies and services tend to offer the very thing marketers are looking for, individual appeal. Give users a message they can relate to, a chance to input usable information, an offer they can redeem in real time, or an experience they will actually remember. This is the kind of advertising marketers can take to the bank.
All of these technologies and services may not be the future of Web advertising. At the very least they may just be the right temporary solutions advertisers need to truly target the growing consumer audience so they don’t have to rely as much on the old click-through to measure marketing objectives.