New Features Boost Flash Advertising

Online advertisers stand to benefit from new upgrades to Macromedia’s Flash technology.

Far and away the leading technology for rich media ads, Macromedia Flash got an under-the-hood tweaking with the release of the San Francisco-based company’s Flash MX, which incorporates streaming video capabilities into the vector graphics-based online animation tool.

“Macromedia Flash has already proven to be the most effective way to communicate advertising information online,” said Macromedia chairman and chief executive Rob Burgess. “Macromedia Flash MX will build on the advances we have been making in this market, and inspire new forms of advertising.”

More eye-catching than static or animated GIF ads, rich media advertising has long been thought to have a more significant branding impact. Compared to various animation, video or audio solutions, Macromedia Flash has been widely regarded as one of the most compelling, with studies conducted several months ago by DoubleClick’s Diameter unit finding that Flash-enhanced ads increased branding metrics by 71 percent — well in excess of other forms of rich media.

Now with integrated video, Macromedia Flash MX stands to increase advertisers’ options and effectiveness still further. By embedding video into ads made with Flash, advertisers could face far fewer problems associated with cross-platform compatibility issues, which continue to plague several other rich media vendors. (For instance, users of the Apple Macintosh — which include most advertising agencies — haven’t been able to view many types of streaming video ad formats.)

That the new version makes video advertisements more widely compatible and easier to use — most interactive designers are already well-versed in Flash — bodes well for online advertising sales. Chiefly, the development is likely to encourage traditional advertisers to repurpose and enhance their television creatives for use online, at a relatively low cost.

Another key enhancement also is likely to win favor with agencies and advertisers. Macromedia Flash MX developers can build ads that assemble external images and sound clips when the ad is viewed — rather than having everything embedded into one file. As a result, advertisers have an easier way to update content in their ads, such as in connection with changing offers, prices or inventory levels.

Macromedia Flash MX’s developer tools also ship with templates for all standard ad unit sizes. As with previous versions of Flash, MX also can be tracked in conjunction with tools like WebSideStory’s HitBox ASP.

The upgrade received endorsements from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, as well as ad servers including DoubleClick, publishers like and Terra Lycos and sellers of rich media formats that include Flash support, such as Unicast and Bluestreak.

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