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IAR Bits and Bytes

Rich Media Ads Garner Clicks for thomascook.com

UK travel site thomascook.com garnered impressive click-throughs on a recent rich media campaign, due likely in part to the ads' use of audio that begins playing without user interaction.

According to the companies, the campaign, created by London-based Gluemedia, a member of interactive shop DeepGroup, saw impressive click-throughs -- on average, about 2.85 percent. That figure was almost two points more than originally expected, according to gluemedia managing director Mark Cridge.

Much of the campaign's success might be attributable to the ads' use of rich media. The campaign includes two "skyscraper" executions, "Tickets" and "Passport Photo," both of which feature animation and sound, which begins playing immediately upon loading.

The ads ran on UK sites www.ntlworld.co.uk and www.sport365.co.uk, and regional versions of CMGI's AltaVista and Yahoo!

Original click-throughs were as high as 2.85 percent, which dropped down to around 1.9 percent when Yahoo and AltaVista were added to the buy after several weeks.

Cridge also said the greater size of the skyscraper units contributed to the effect.

"All good ads begin with a good idea, but some good ideas just won't fit into a banner," he said. "More space means there's more freedom to innovate and with less clutter we managed to get the message of 'It's time to leave the country' across more clearly. The vertical format challenged our creatives to produce a new style of creative execution."

EyeWonder Debuts E-Mail Product

Atlanta-based rich media ad firm EyeWonder is moving into the online direct marketing technology space, with a new product designed to implement video e-mails.

Launching with three clients, the company's new EyeMail product delivers streaming video and audio within e-mails. Using EyeWonder's banner video technology, EYERIS, EyeMail can stream content in without special media players, plug-ins or downloadable files.

Similarly to its banner ad product, EyeWonder says EyeMail detects users' bandwidth capacities and delivers streams appropriate for Internet connection.

Clients already using the product include GroupLotto, Traffix, and AOL Moviefone, a unit of AOL Time Warner.

Ford, Bolt.com Wrap Up Car Contest

A promotion to market venerable automaker Ford's appeal to teens is wrapping up, with the Dearborn, Mich.-based car manufacturer and teen site Bolt.com naming 21-year-old Veshale Edwards, of West Covina, Calif., the recipient of a trip to Ford headquarters later this week.

Edwards was the winner of Bolt's "Design Your Dream Car" contest, which ran this winter on Bolt.com. Design submissions were featured on Bolt's Cars channel, where they were reviewed and rated by Ford and Bolt members worldwide. As part of her first place Ford-tour package, Edwards also won a $2,500 cash prize.

Bolt promoted the contest through ads across its site and in opt-in online newsletters.

The second-place prize for the "Design Your Dream Car" contest was a mountain bike, awarded to a 16-year-old Bolt member from Ontario, Canada for his high-performance super car design titled RK Exision. As part of the "Design Your Dream Car" sweepstakes, design enthusiasts also had the opportunity to win a Limited Edition Ford Escape. Eighteen-year-old Bolt member Cattie Storey of Eastland, Tex. received the keys to her new Ford Escape at a ceremony last week.

"The success of the 'Design Your Dream Car' contest is a testament to the significant role that cars play in teens' lives," said Bolt chairman and chief executive Dan Pelson. "We're thrilled to leverage our partnership with Ford to help them connect with the young consumers, and designers, of the future."

Interactive Campaign For Nextel Sees Boost in Web Sales

Nextel Communications and its interactive agency, One to One Interactive, says its most recent online ad campaign boosted sales and came in under budget expectations.

Boston-based One To One said its second-quarter campaign for Nextel's online store, Shop@Nextel, resulted in a 54 percent increase in customers from first quarter, and exceeded cost per lead objectives by 28 percent.

Nextel, which is headquartered in Reston, Va., originally hired One To One in late 2000 to drive leads to its online store and other sales channels, and to gain insights into online customer leads and acquisition.

From January to June, One To One developed programs using a variety of ad vehicles, such as Unicast Superstitials, Enliven rich media banners, permission marketing and larger-than-banner units (such as formats approved by the Interactive Advertising Bureau).

As a result, the first-quarter campaign exceeded lead expectations by 15 percent, and the follow-up, second-quarter campaign saw an additional 35 percent growth in leads, while staying below the cost per lead target.

"Our second-quarter interactive campaign helped us target the right customers and lower customer acquisition costs," said Peter Taddeo, vice president of channel development at Nextel. "The success of our second-quarter campaign shows interactive advertising can deliver a real contribution to business success when implemented properly with established objectives and metrics."

MovieTickets.com Taps Strykers For New Ad

Hollywood-based MovieTickets.com is reprising characters from its earlier campaign with a new theatrical trailer ad.

The new campaign continues the adventures of the Stryker family, which plans outings to the movies with over-the-top military precision -- and MovieTickets.com. The ad, "Stryker Family: Duel Mission," was designed by Santa Monica, Calif.-based B.D. Fox & Friends, and is slated to appear before national film releases starting this weekend.

As with the earlier efforts, "Duel Mission" aims to show consumers the ease of purchasing movie tickets on MovieTickets.com, using features such as support for Internet-enabled mobile phones.

In support of the in-theater campaign, Stryker Family radio spots are running in major U.S. media markets. MovieTickets.com also bought a billboard in New York City's Times Square, next to AMC's Empire 25 Theatres.

Spending was not disclosed.