Compaq “Takes Over” Yahoo! Home Page

In the latest example of the more-intrusive advertising technology being deployed on the Internet, a Compaq iPAQ handheld computer will whirl around over Yahoo!’s home page on Tuesday, before zipping over to rest atop a square ad extolling “great deals” on the device.

The promotion, which grew out of a multi-year marketing deal between Houston-based Compaq and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo!, marks only the second time that the portal player has sold the rights for an animated Flash ad to exclusively appear on its home page. An ad for a Ford Explorer — in which birds pecked away at birdseed, which disappeared to reveal the vehicle — was the first.

Once a site visitor clicks on the Compaq ad, the Yahoo! page fades away and a full-size iPAQ device descends from the top of the browser. Text appears on the screen of the device, which reads: “Now you can search, chat, send e-mail, shop, no matter where you are.” Viewers can then click on the device to learn more, or close the ad — which fades away — to return to the Yahoo! front page.

“The Compaq iPAQ campaign utilizes our most advanced advertising formats and technologies and allows Compaq to further market its award-winning products to our 210 million users, build its brand strength and ultimately distinguish itself as an innovator,” said Drew Lanham, vice president of alliances and distribution at Yahoo!.

The Compaq ads will be the only ones appearing on the Yahoo! home page on Tuesday, and other creatives will appear on Yahoo! Search and Directory, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! News and Yahoo! Mail.

The Yahoo! Finance ad shows a twisting electrical cord extending from the section logo at the top of the page to finally plug into a “powered by Compaq” logo on the top right. The rest of the page is dominated by other large, red ads for business-oriented products. The Yahoo! Mail page, tapping into more of a consumer audience, allows viewers to play a movie trailer — showing off the multimedia capabilities of the device.

“Through compelling interactive ads, carefully placed on those areas of the network that attract loyal Yahoo! users for long average sessions and by developing creative ads that integrate with site content or functionality, we’re creating a much tighter association between the Compaq and Yahoo! brands,” said Mary Bermel, director of interactive marketing at Compaq.

The new advertising push comes at an interesting time for both of the companies. Compaq has recently agreed to be purchased by Hewlett-Packard in a deal which would likely mean the extinction of the Compaq brand name — though the agreement has been met with an unenthusiastic reception.

For its part, Yahoo! last week announced earnings that barely reached analysts’ estimates, and it has lately been working to reduce its dependence on advertising by introducing paid services. Still, chief executive officer Terry Semel signaled that advertising would continue to be a big part of the revenue mix.

“Advertising is expected to become a smaller percentage of a larger total over the next few years,” he said on the conference call announcing third quarter earnings. “Nevertheless, it will remain a core and very important part of our business overall. No other medium can build brands, create customer relationships, and generate transactions the way the Internet can.”

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