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Extreme Makeover: Banner Ads Redux

By now everyone is fully aware of what to expect in the near future regarding interactive marketing. Consumer-generated content will continue to create buzz; there will be more emphasis on overall customer engagement through 2.0 technologies; the value of branded entertainment will rise; and companies will leverage enhanced websites and blogs to generate more loyalty.

But we can't lose sight of the fundamental techniques that support each of these philosophical strategies, namely tactics such as expandable banners. Surprisingly enough, only a limited number of companies and brands successfully leverage expandable banner ads. This is a significant oversight, since all the necessary tools are readily available to make high impact ads that extend critical brand attributes.

Banner ads are a true representation of web 1.0. When the internet first exploded in the late 1990s, companies and ad agencies raced to design Flash banners that captured our attention. Although cliché, hindsight is 20/20, and we now know that this technology was quick to become more of a nuisance than an effective form of advertisement. If anything, viewers simply ignored them since they didn't capture our attention, nor did they provide a compelling reason to click.

With the second web explosion, however, new technologies and insight have given fresh life to the banner ad. Now, companies are going back to a "new classic" loaded with fundamental spirit by deploying rich media expandable banners oozing with everything 2.0-ish.

Expandable banners are like Flash banners except they let viewers interact with their content when they expand into additional panels of information, games, offers or streaming video.

From games that can become addictive to streaming video professionally produced or user-generated, today's expandable banners succeed at everything we expect from online marketing. They're fresh, exciting, compelling, highly interactive and rewarding to the viewer, and they provide an effective foundation for viral marketing and brand extension. Furthermore, viewers can interact with a brand by remaining on the same website, enabling more convenience to the user and providing a higher success rate for the advertiser.

Additionally, expandable banners can have different creative content that loads various messages depending on the user's profile. For example, a bank using an expandable banner might have messaging that speaks to online banking when a viewer (who uses online banking services) interacts with the banner, as opposed to a viewer that does traditional banking. The banners would have messaging and offers that speak uniquely to each viewer.

Taking it a step further, when you add in the necessary (by today's standards) element of universal marketing, which unfortunately most companies still fall short of, expandable banners are highly successful at reaching segmented audiences in different regions, cultures or locations.

For example, a rich media expandable banner ad was developed for Toyota to interact with audiences in Puerto Rico to create excitement for the launch of a new model called the .

In addition to language translated for the local audience, the expandable banner contains colorful graphics and an interactive game that captures viewers' attention and interests them to learn more about the car, as well as Toyota. The look and feel of the banner adapts to a Puerto Rican audience, above and beyond a simple language translation. Just as important, the online campaign was related to an offline print campaign running locally, further supporting the integrated brand messaging. And since the game is fun, many viewers will likely forward it on to friends in a viral setting.

Rich media expandable banner ads let companies succeed at a number of critical marketing initiatives. They let viewers interact with the brand and provide a compelling call-to-action. They offer an element of suspense and explain lots of information about the brand or product in a simple, fun way. In the future, more companies will incorporate streaming video into their banners either produced by a studio or provided by user-generated content. But most importantly, rich media expandable banners let companies make an emotional connection with customers, which is the ultimate goal in extending a brand.
Jayson Fittipaldi is president of Nobox Marketing, an interactive agency focused on helping industry leaders deliver universal marketing messages to a variety of audience segments. .

Jayson Fittipaldi serves as president of Nobox Marketing, an interactive marketing agency that specializes in helping clients tailor their messages to reach audiences worldwide. He co-founded Nobox and has leveraged exciting forms of interactive...

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