By Paul Davis
We've all heard the old cliché, "You can never be too rich or too thin." You could also apply the saying to online advertising using so-called "rich media" ads.
As a marketer, all you really want is somebody's attention. Until someone is paying attention to what you have to say, you can't have any meaningful communication with them. You can't talk about new products or their benefits until you have someone's attention, and getting someone's attention is only getting harder as people are bombarded by more and more information.
Many companies are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get the attention of their audience. They are willing to risk irritating potential customers by using techniques like pop-up ads and other intrusive techniques. While these methods can be effective, the risk of irritating prospective customers makes this an option that should be approached only with extreme caution.
Fortunately there are other, more acceptable ways to draw attention to your message. Rich media ads are online ads that incorporate interactive and animated components and use audio, video, and other design elements to gain and maintain the attention of the reader. With some planning and preparation, rich media ads can add some amazing functionality to your campaigns.
Rich media ads allow you to:
Is it possible to be rich and thin?
- Realize higher click-through rates
Studies have shown that rich media ads consistently outperform traditional banner ads in almost every comparison. If you're looking for a way to increase your online response rates, a carefully crafted rich media ad can help.
- Take advantage of sound and motion
Adding sound and motion not only helps you gain attention, but these elements can be used to help you convey emotion -- which is a powerful way to help prospects identify with your products and services.
- Add interactive elements to your message
Well-planned rich media ads can allow you to get more out of your current ad space by allowing you to reveal (or hide) additional options as people express an interest to learn more about your products. When people mouse-over your ad, your ad can be made to expand its current size and reveal more information, or show additional navigation buttons, product pictures or download options.
- Add an emotional appeal
As marketers, it's easy to get caught up in the features and benefits of products and forget that at the end of the day people make a purchase decision based on an emotion. Rich media ads allow you to utilize this emotional appeal in a way that is not possible with standard banner ads. Rich media ads will allow you to tell a story and connect with people on an emotional level, which can be incredibly powerful.
The biggest problem with rich media ads up to this point has been their size and their impact on page download times. Typically, the more interactive the ad becomes, the "fatter" the file size. This can create problems because page view times take too long, people tend to move to another site, and the carefully planned ad experience is lost on the user.
New technologies are addressing this issue by doing a better job of compressing ad elements and keeping overall ad sizes "thin" while still providing a "rich" experience for the user.
On the other end of the equation, increased adoption by Internet users of high-speed access helps to mitigate the impact of larger ad sizes. Recent surveys show that almost 50% of users now have high-speed Internet access. A recent internal survey of AuntMinnie members showed that almost 70% had high-speed Internet access at work. This trend towards high-speed Internet access is only going to continue, and the case for using rich media ads will continue to grow with it.
The burden of being rich
The other factor in considering whether to use rich media ads is the increased production time and costs that they incur. A good rich media ad will meld several design disciplines to create an experience that is far beyond what a traditional banner ad can provide.
However, this comes at an increased cost because your designers will often be working with video clips and audio tracks combined with still graphics and other web technologies like Flash to create the total experience. It takes time to do this, and it's easy to overlook certain aspects of the production process the first time you're involved with it. For example, it's imperative to test things like animation speed so that the ad unfolds its message at a pace that is slow enough to read and understand, but not so slow that it bogs down and allows people's attention to wander. It's easy to say, but harder to do.
If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that is already using video and audio clips to promote specific products, then producing rich media ads will be just one more way for your company to take advantage of that investment because the hardest work will have already been done. If you don't already have this material, you may be able to justify the additional costs by creating rich media ads that feature several product lines and services so that you can draw from more than one promotional budget.
The power of being rich
Used correctly, rich media ads can provide a wealth of communication options for your business in the online environment. Rich media ads offer tremendous power to marketers for sharing their message by allowing you to incorporate sound, motion and emotion into the experience and to enhance an otherwise static message.
It's also important, though, to think carefully when to use these ads due to the increased bandwidth they consume and the increased cost to produce them. Make sure you have a clear message in mind when incorporating rich media ads into your marketing mix. By doing so, you can enjoy the rich advantages these ads have to offer.
Thinking about the road to riches
If you're thinking about incorporating rich media ads into your online marketing mix you probably will have many questions about what to do and where to go next. If you would like to learn more about how to take advantage of these powerful ads, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As your online marketing partner, we'll do our best to help answer your questions and provide any technical guidance or support that's needed - without cost or obligation - to get you on the road to riches. Contact us today and see how enriching your marketing message can pay a wealth of dividends for you!
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