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Banners in Motion
by Brian Chmielewski
Banner advertising is the most visible and pervasive form of
advertising on the Internet. Because of the awareness that banners
generate, they are the perfect tools for getting your commercial
interests in the face of many global villagers. Sony, AT&T and
Microsoft know this and budget their resources to get impressions of
their corporate name onto your computer screen.
Recognizing the enormous growth potential for online purchases, it would
be wise to re-distribute advertising dollars now. AT&T did just that
when it substituted a two-week Internet campaign in lieu of two
30-second television commercials. Why? Because AT&T capitalized on
the latest thing in banner advertising - animation and audio.
Today, companies such as VDONet, Vxtreme (acquired by Microsoft in
August), RealNetworks (formerly known as Progressive) and Narrative
Communications are introducing audio and video software products to
the Internet for use in advertising, not just Internet page design.
Narrative Software's Enliven is distinguished by compression and
decompression codes that organize multimedia material so that it streams
faster and decompresses on the fly. For those who are part of a
network, the streaming banner ad begins to play while you're loading a
Internet page. For those entering though a dial-up connection, long
download times may cause problems because users could move off of the
page before the ads finish loading. The publisher loses that
"impression", which eventually translates into receiving less money
for the ad.
There are some drawbacks that you should be aware of if you are
considering the use of streaming video and audio in your new banners.
First, the technology for these ads is in its infancy. If you compare
full-motion video at 24 frames per second, film at 30 frames per second,
and clips of RealVideo (RealNetworks) at 28.8 Kbps, you will experience
dismal video at six or eight frames per second. Second, many Internet
publishers hesitate to run these fancy ads on their sites because of
the fear of long download times, the risk of crashing their readers'
browsers, the inconvenience of requiring exotic plug-ins, or the lack
of cross-browser support for such technologies as Java and ActiveX.
And lastly - you guessed it - it's going to cost you. Server software
starts at around $995 (RealNetworks) and goes up to $7995 (Narrative).
The authoring software ranges from $249 to free; viewing Enliven-driven
products requires no software, while RealPlayer can be freely
The bottom line is this: What do you expect out of an advertising
vehicle and how much are you willing to spend to see that your
expectations are met?
Whether you wish to increase the brand recognition associated with your
product, pull traffic to your site or build a database of names for
research or sales leads, banners do work - animated or not. If you
believe that speed triumphs over aesthetics in advertising, then
static banners are the way to go. If you think that you need an
alternative method of attracting Internet users, then maybe audio and
video are the answer.
For more information: The Narrative Communications collection of banners
can be seen at http://ww2.narrative.com/gallery.nsf . To download
RealPlayer visit http://www.real.com/products/player/playerdl.html .
Visit Intelliquest for details about last month's Business Week poll at
http://www.intelliquest.com/about/release32.htm . For professional
assistance with your
banner needs, see http://www.BannerNetworks.com.
First published in WebPromote's newsletter.