The technology of this may be very cool, but it is intrusive as hell:
- Beginning [yesterday], more than a dozen Web sites, including MSN, ESPN, Lycos and iVillage, [ran] full-motion video commercials from Pepsi, AT&T, Honda, Vonage and Warner Brothers, in a six-week test that some analysts and online executives say could herald the start of a new era of Internet advertising.
“It’s TV, without the television,” said John Vail, director for digital media and marketing for Pepsi-Cola North America, a unit of PepsiCo.
….The new ad technology, from Unicast, an advertising company based in New York, invisibly loads the commercial while unwitting users read a Web page, then displays the ad across the entire browser area when users click to a new page. The resulting ad is identical to TV, whether the user has a high- or low-speed connection. The company says the technology evades pop-up blockers, but the person can skip the ad by clicking a box.
….Mr. Vail, of Pepsi, said he would monitor online viewers’ reactions through a tracking study conducted by the research firm Dynamic Logic, to determine how much use Pepsi will make of such ads in the future. “Yes, it’s intrusive,” he said. “But I think customers will like it, because it will be so far superior to anything they’ve seen online.”
James Nail, an analyst with the technology consulting firm Forrester Research, agreed. “This is the best full-motion, full-video TV ad technology that I’ve seen,” he said. “I expect big demand from advertisers for this.”
Among other features, Mr. Nail says he appreciates the fact that the ads do not slow Web surfing. The commercials load into a computer’s temporary memory, and only when a page is idle. If a user clicks to a new page within the site before the ad is fully loaded, the process is merely paused until the browser is again idle. The ads run on Windows Media Player software, which an estimated 8 of 10 Internet users have on their computers.
….Joanne Bradford, a vice president and the chief media revenue officer for Microsoft’s MSN, said her site would not show users more than one video commercial in a 24-hour period. Furthermore, she said if users complained about any advertisement, MSN would pull it. “But we’ve not had to do that yet,” she said, referring to earlier video ads using streaming technology. “If it’s done well, advertising is entertainment.”
Not all online publishing executives agree, of course. Scot McLernon, executive vice president for sales and marketing at the financial news site CBS Marketwatch, said he considered joining the Unicast rollout, but declined, for fear of alienating users. “Thirty seconds strikes me as three times too long,” he said. “And there’s a lot of Web use in open air workplace environments, so we’re looking for a more subtle sound experience.”[NY Times]
They say they are going to monitor users responses to this and react accordingly, but once things like this are up and running and the money flowing, no one on the Internet side is going to want to go back.