EyeWonder, FPBA Team For Video Interstitial

Streaming video company EyeWonder and ad technology firm FPBA Group announced a deal to co-market a video interstitial product that dips into both companies’ product lines.

The video interstitial, known as the CommFlash Eyeris G3, will combine streaming video with FPBA’s CommFlash in-browser ad. The video will load once a user arrives as a site, in the background, then appear when the user moves to another page, showing a short video clip while the next page is loading.

The EyeWonder video component builds on the CommFlash interstitial to make an even more aggressive ad format. CommFlash Eyeris G3 can also be used as an entry ad or “intromercial.” Thus far, EyeWonder and FPBA have not announced any publishers running CommFlash Eyeris G3.

“It gives publishers and advertisers a way to give consumers a TV-like experience online but they’re still able to have the advantage of interaction and tracking that the Internet provides,” said Byron Biggins, vice president of sales and marketing at FPBA.

Despite research showing the branding effectiveness of interstitials, they remain a small part of the online ad landscape. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), interstitials accounted for 6 percent of online ad revenue in the fourth quarter of 2002. The IAB found interstitials on the rise, though, having accounted for just 3 percent of ad revenue in the same quarter a year earlier. (The IAB’s methodology includes pop-up ads as interstitials.)

Biggins said the CommFlash Eyeris G3 would be attractive for advertisers looking for an intrusive ad format in a post-pop-up era. Recently, both Google and AltaVista rolled out toolbars with pop-up blockers. Internet service providers EarthLink and AOL also included anti-pop-up software in the last year, while MSN plans to offer it as part of its newly released MSN Premium service.

“A lot of publishers we work with have noticed more and more of their pop-ups are getting blocked,” he said. “We’re provide a solution for those publishers.”

Nate Elliott, an analyst with Jupiter Research, said video holds great potential for Internet advertising, but says interstitials aren’t the right way to deliver it.

“Interstitials aren’t a new ad format,” he said. “Most sites have already made a decision not to use them. Knowing that, and knowing that interstitials are usually hard to implement, I can’t imagine that they’ll catch on at this point.”

Biggins disagreed, saying that CommFlash did not require hard-coding now, which had previously scared off some publishers.

“Most publishers nowadays are CommFlash-enabled already,” he said.

Another problem, according to Elliott, is that uninitiated video and audio could easily alienate users. Instead, he said traditional advertisers have prime branding opportunities by using video advertising when Web users are actually watching streaming video such as on Yahoo!’s Launch or ESPN Motion.

Biggins said the fact that the ad plays between pages makes it much less startling than ads that play video and audio on content pages.

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