Study: Traditional Advertisers Using Rich Media

Rich media ads may represent only a fraction of all online advertisements, but they’ve found favor among highly sought-after offline advertisers, according to new research from Nielsen//NetRatings .

The Milpitas, Calif.-based firm found that nine of the top ten rich media advertisers during the first quarter were made up of traditional brands.

After dot-com advertiser Virtumundo (which NetRatings found bought about 154 million impressions), Nextel Communications was the largest rich media advertiser, with about 112 million impressions. State Farm Insurance, Procter & Gamble and Verizon followed, with 101 million, 53 million and 44 million, respectively.

Next, Coca-Cola , General Motors and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals bought about 40 million, 27 million and 24 million impressions. The U.S. federal government and Vivendi Universal S.A. rounded out the top ten with about 20 million impressions each.

Executions covered in the study included rich media banners and rectangle formats, interstitials, and full-screen “takeover” ads.

NetRatings said the findings also indicated that advertisers were seeking to stand out from the clutter of online media.

“Clutter continues to be one of online advertising’s challenges, with consumers drenched by a flood of ad impressions and elements on a daily basis,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of media research at NetRatings. “Surfers face an average of three ads per page viewed, making message delivery tough for marketers. In response, advertisers and publishers alike appear to be greeting the new rich media technologies as a breath of fresh air, with a majority of traditional companies embracing the formats and including it in their media buying strategy.”

NetRatings also found that many rich media advertisers are opting for more expensive targeted media buys. About 67 percent of ads based on rich media technology player eyeblaster’s format were being targeted to a specific demographic, while 26 percent showed some signs of targeting to multiple demographics. Seven percent of the ads did not appear to be targeted.

Those figures differ dramatically when compared to online ads overall, which are highly targeted only 30 percent of the time and untargeted about half of the time.

The findings on rich media ads — which make up about 3 percent of all online ads, and which typically command a higher price than static formats — suggest good things for the online advertising industry, which is looking to not only boost revenue but to attract marketing dollars from big-budgeted offline brands.

In recent months, those efforts have centered around industry-wide pushes to develop standards for media buying terminology, procedures and impression accounting.

But the research indicates that one of the industry’s earliest initiatives to woo offline budgets — the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s larger-format ad sizes — is paying off. In addition to giving advertisers more space to work with on a Web page, the new formats from last year also encouraged the use of rich media creative, which is more effective in larger spaces than in the relatively cramped confines of a 468×60 banner execution. (The New York-based IAB continued the thinking with the release of its first round of rich media ad guidelines, shortly thereafter.)

The study represents the first research released by NetRatings under its AdRelevance brand, which it acquired from rival Jupiter Media Metrix last month.

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