Going beyond the banner

Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Realizing the costs outweighed the benefits, top marketers began to sour on Internet banner ads about two years ago. But the transition to a more effective online ad has a been a sluggish one.
Now, however, a growing number of Internet companies are scrambling to develop new “suites” of interactive ad units they insist will offer advertisers the ability to better target their customers. Call them banners with bite.
Indeed, Yahoo!, AOL Time Warner’s America Online, Excite@Home, DoubleClick and others are on the brink of launching new ad units designed to overcome the limitations of the banner ad, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau.
These embedded ads are enabling marketers to present viewers with significantly more information, such as product shots and specifications, without linking to a new Web site. They’re designed to manage prospective and existing customer relationships-compared with traditional banner ads, which generally have been designed to serve as links.
Chicago-based B2B Works, which manages clients’ ads on a network of business-to-business Web sites, recently rolled out ProcurePanel, a component of a market service platform called FocusWorks. ProcurePanel resembles a traditional banner ad but at the bottom features an animated “dashboard” of multiple links to advertisers’ product lines and sales information.
B2B Works provides analysis-far more sophisticated than click-through rates-on how far the user drilled down into the ad.
CNET Networks last month launched a new suite of ad units available through CNET’s News.com and ZDNet’s News Web site as well as five of CNET’s international sites. The ad units are threefold: a “leader board,” which appears at the top of the page; a “tower board,” which appears to the left or right side of the text; and an ad unit in the center of the site called Messaging Plus. The ad cost is $75 per CPM. IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems have already signed on.
Barry Briggs, president of CNET Networks Media, said banners don’t allow companies to communicate complex solutions. “There’s an extraordinary opportunity on the Web for [advertisers] to take brand awareness and move it down the path to brand preference and brand affinity,” he said.
Denise Garcia, research director of interactive advertising at Gartner Group, said embedded ads are a “huge bonus” because the user doesn’t have to travel away from the site to get information and the advertiser isn’t interrupting the user experience.
“The banner’s struggle with performance issues has fueled the growth of rich media,” she said. “The real story will be in three months when we have real data that reflects interactivity and time spent.”