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iWon.com Goes Rich Media

Web portal iWon.com said it's seeing traction in its efforts to attract big-name advertisers to its site -- using rich media creative.

The portal this week debuted rich media campaigns for Maybelline, Twentieth Century Fox, Unilever and Toyota.

The first two ads use technology created in-house by iWon.com. The Maybelline execution is a "takeover" ad that appears on the site's front page and briefly covers its content. The creative shows a bottle of Maybelline's Smooth Result makeup pouring onto the page. The pool of makeup actually shows the viewer's name -- if the person is a registered member of iWon.com whose profile shows that she's a woman over 30 -- making the ad both rich media and personalized.

Similarly, "takeover" ads for Fox appear on the front page and on iWon's Entertainment page, aiming to encourage users to pick up a copy of the studio's DVD/VHS release of "Cast Away."

The work for Unilever and Toyota, on the other hand, came about by way of a vendor -- streaming ad technology firm EyeWonder. The Atlanta-based start-up's EYERIS product features a Java-based compression and delivery engine, which it says allows a publisher to deliver TV-like video streams even to dial-up users.

As a result, television creatives for Toyota's Highlander SUV and Unilever's Thermasilk hair care product will appear throughout iWon. Toyota's ad will run on the front page, while Thermasilk will appear in the portal's Fashion and Beauty and Celebrity Gossip areas.

"Working with a prominent Internet portal like iWon is an exciting opportunity," said EyeWonder chief executive John Vincent. "EyeWonder's ability to instantly deliver video and audio to any user within a Web page ... will allow iWon and it's advertisers to engage users with the highly effective, proven power of TV-like video and audio."

Alliterative qualities aside, the partnership between iWon and EyeWonder enables the portal to easily re-purpose existing television creative for the Web, executives said.

"A 30-second television spot is a proven, engaging advertising unit," said iWon.com co-CEO Jonas Steinman. "So what we've done through EyeWonder's technology is to take the creative that people have spent $100,000 developing, and migrate it over to the Web. It packs a very powerful branding punch."

According to EyeWonder, the ad begins streaming in as the page loads, effectively enabling the spot to begin playback almost instantly. In iWon's implementation, consumers can mute or stop the commercial at any time.

Though it's debuting the two campaigns in 206-by-178 pixel ad units, the company also said it's willing to incorporate EyeWonder ads into banner ads and large 206-by-287 pixel boxes -- and says it's seeing interest from other advertisers as well for such enhanced offerings.

Since the development of the static .gif banner ad, "people are still stuck in the same advertising unit," Steinman said. "Web publishers are pushing the envelope more, whether it's 30-second advertising spots, or in the use of Flash. I see it an evolution. This is taking place in terms of the objectives in online advertising and the amount of creativity that is put into online advertising campaigns."

"They're much more engaging, much more interactive, and much more personalized ... and they deliver more value," he added.

The new ad wins also mean that iWon -- which attracts users by offering entries into various sweepstakes -- is seeing traction from its in-house ad sales effort. In fall, the company officially dropped DoubleClick as its ad representative and brought sales inside.

Meanwhile, the agreement between EyeWonder and iWon is only the latest development for the Atlanta start-up, which is less than a year old. In February, the company inked a deal with AOL Time Warner to have EYERIS video included as an ad specification on CNN's Web sites. That month, EyeWonder also picked up ad network Real Media as a distributor.