DoubleClick Beta Tests Rich Media Ad Software

DoubleClick has signed on more than 30 clients to beta
test the long-awaited rich media ad serving and tracking product developed
in partnership with Macromedia , the company said Monday.

Publishers, advertisers, and agencies will be represented in the testing
process, with participants including MSN, Modem Media, Mass Transit
Interactive, Moxie Interactive, and Freeserve.

The technology, which will incorporate features like trafficking and
multi-event reporting, is an add-on to DoubleClick’s popular DART ASP ad
serving technology. It marries DART and Macromedia’s Flash MX software,
aiming to help marketers streamline the process of using rich media creative
in their advertising campaigns.

Because the technology development has involved two of the biggest players
in the online advertising industry, it has the potential to dramatically
change the business landscape, but it’s unclear how much impact it will
actually have. The companies have thus far been tight-lipped about how the
technologies would be integrated, and the information circulated with the
beta release announcement was similarly short on details.

“The product could change everything, or it could change nothing, depending
on how good it is,” said Nate Elliott, associate advertising analyst at
Jupiter Research, a division of this publication’s corporate parent. Elliott
previously served as senior rich media manager at DoubleClick.

Rich media has been growing in popularity, especially among DoubleClick’s
clients. In its Q1 2003 Ad Serving Trend Report, the company found that 28
percent of all ads served were in rich media formats, as compared to 17
percent in the same year-ago period. Macromedia’s Flash is by far the most
popular application used to create rich media ads, accounting for 12 percent
of DoubleClick’s total volume.

While use of rich media has grown, the high costs involved with trafficking
and reporting have been stumbling blocks to its further
development. Up until now, rich media vendors such as Eyeblaster, United
Virtualities, and Ad4ever have thrived by providing marketers with
trafficking, tracking, and reporting capabilities. The
DoubleClick/Macromedia technology calls their futures into question.

“For rich media vendors it could be sink or swim time,” said Elliott.

One of the features incorporated into the beta software, multi-event
reporting, has long been of interest to advocates of rich media. This type
of reporting would enable marketers to learn how users interact with rich
media ads, even if they don’t click through to a Web site. This
functionality is especially important to branding-oriented advertisers,
including those selling high consideration products, as getting a user
involved with an ad is considered a positive step toward conversion.

The first wide-release version of the software will hit the United States
next month, and Europe and Asia in September.

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