RealTime IT News

Study: Productized Rich Media Tops Plain Flash

Online ads using advanced forms of rich media are more effective than static creative, but they also perform better than "plain vanilla" Macromedia Flash and HTML executions, according to new findings from Dynamic Logic.

Data culled from the New York-based researcher's MarketNorms database -- which houses more than 330,000 surveys from about 320 client campaigns -- said that ads created in Flash and HTML outperformed .gif and JPEG ads, increasing message association lift to 37 percent. The static formats saw only a 22 percent average lift.

But the real winners are formats like those marketed by Unicast, United Virtualities and others -- which increased message association to an average of 44 percent.

As categorized by Dynamic Logic, those advanced rich media forms include products built on the basic tools of Flash, dynamic HTML and Java -- such as Unicast Superstitials, United Virtualities' Shoshkeles, Point-Roll, Eyeblaster, Eyewonder, Klipmart, and MSN's Next-Generation Ad Products.

"There's been some confusion in the marketplace about what rich media is exactly," said Dynamic Logic President Nick Nyhan. "Flash and HTML are sort of general operating systems or technologies. They're sort of generic. The rich media stuff ... tends to be the essentially the most advanced units that are a step beyond HTML and Flash."

If that's indeed the case, it's a powerful validation for firms selling productized dynamic HTML, Java and Flash formats. Such companies seek to position their offerings against both competing products as well as against technology that's in the public domain, or in the case of Flash, is nearly ubiquitous among interactive designers.

That's been one sticking point for developers of rich media formats: in many cases, there seems little reason for advertisers and agencies to pay fees for snazzy third-party ad formats, when agency or publisher-side creative teams appear able to whip up something similar using existing (and nearly free) tools.

The data also naturally suggests some relative valuations for static, basic Flash and rich media formats.

"It's not to say the older units are not effective, it's just that these are more effective," Nyhan said. "The research ... is going to help the buyer and the seller calculate the cost effectiveness of the campaign."

"Every media buyer will have their own ideas how to use this research, but hopefully it will help people make decisions with more confidence about what they're buying," he added. "I might start a campaign with rich media, to sort of kick it off with a bang, but since I also see that .gifs and JPEGs have an impact, I might sustain it with those. While not as effective, they're also not as expensive."

The data contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting rich media's greater branding potential for traditional advertisers. That's been a major push by many in the space, such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau -- since the formats are not only more effective, but cash-strapped online publishing players can charge higher rates for them.

Additionally, if buyers begin migrating to more costly rich media, there's also the chance that publishers will have less inventory to deal with -- which some see as a boost for pricing.

Advertisers "won't need to run as many ads, while still getting the bang for the buck," Nyhan said. "There seems to be an oversupply in the industry of inventory. That's partly what caused a decrease in CPMs -- the demand didn't meet the supply, so it's all discounted."

"I think what we'll see as rich media comes out, it will allow publishers to charge more and to decrease inventory needed for a campaign ... and equalize supply and demand," he added.