This was underlined during the recent Eyeblaster Awards, which is an annual event recognising the most successful and groundbreaking digital campaigns of the year, all of which were featured on Eyeblaster's Creative Zone site during 2008.
Innovation has been on view throughout the year, with everything from high definition (HD) video, contextual display ads and widgets to RSS advertising, chat-based ads and mobile campaigns all contributing to a successful year for this area of the digital industry.
For instance, contextual display ads are populated with content from the page the user is viewing, so they always see a relevant creative, which is ideal for strong branding. Offering an in-ad chat capability creates a branded social experience, which can be combined with site takeovers for a very powerful and interesting approach. Providing maps within ads reduces the user's need to do further research, and can also be combined with data capture for location-based targeting.
Among the winners were campaigns that employed the full range of technical and creative approaches. Non Stop Fernando was a campaign created for Emirates Airlines, by agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine in the U.K., to promote their Dubai-Sao Paulo route -- a journey of 14 hours. To illustrate the idea, Fernando spoke continually about his hometown of Sao Paulo for a 14-hour period. This campaign picked up the International Judges Award as an example of a creative concept, well executed. Specifically, rich media banners delivered the idea and tied in to the campaign website. Social media was used, connected to Fernando, and his non-stop talking was also a Guinness World Record attempt, which added to the interest.
The HP TouchSmart campaign (People's Choice Award, N. America) presented users with a complete path to conversion on-banner. The ad, designed by Goodby Silverstein & Partners 'anticipates' what the consumer would need in order to go through from initial awareness to e-commerce conversion. It offered a new and engaging way to use the expandable canvas to 'invite the user in', with 3D and high quality video designed to echo the product's display quality and draw the consumer down the path.
Nike Football (Best in Cross Channel Integration, International) promoted its association with Euro 2008 with one of the largest video widget campaigns, which ran across more than ten countries to raise the profile of the Nike Football website. Their London-based agency, AKQA, designed the Nike widget to showcase video of well known sporting and media celebrities to deliver Nike branded content directly from a video banner ad to social networks, homepages, blogs, etc.
Cross-channel integration is likely to remain an important theme throughout 2009 and another innovative campaign that combined search and display to good effect was the CW Network campaign by OMD LA. OMD looked to raise awareness and increase viewers for both the Beverly Hills 90210 and America's Next Top Model TV shows in the U.S. By using cross-channel tools to look beyond the last click to fully understand the consumer -- where they're going and how they got there -- OMD found that strategically integrating search and display raised conversion rates in the search channel significantly. The unified reporting demonstrated how a display impression is responsible for nearly one of every three conversions on the search channel.
A full list of Eyeblaster Award winners can be viewed here.
Dean Donaldson is digital experience strategist at Eyeblaster.