BlueStreak Banner Design System Turning Heads

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NEW YORK -- Rich media technology firm debuted a banner-building system this week that is designed to let online advertisers shape and make banners through a Windows-like environment and then post them on the Net almost immediately. And so far, the product, called On-The-Fly, is getting a warm reception.

"This is the equivalent for online advertising what Quark XPress was to print advertising," said Eric Picard, executive producer at, Newport, RI.

The comparison is an accurate one, if Picard's demonstration of the technology is any indication. The new system appears on a PC screen like layout software used by graphic designers and visual artists. Banner designers can drag uploaded graphic files on or off a banner, add special interactive and audio functions through pull-down windows, and re-size banners - all with their mouse arrows.

BlueStreak is marketing its product to both electronic businesses and ad agencies, and in a short span the firm has gotten the attention of some major players. Net portal Lycos Inc. began working with the product in August, and AT&T's Interactive Group is slated to begin using it this month as well. Two ad shops - K2 Design, New York, and Beyond Interactive, Ann Arbor, MI, -- began using On-The-Fly in August.

Essentially, the product is designed to let users build banners through a visual environment rather than by writing scripting language. BlueStreak will host the system, letting clients log in through the Web to use the product. On-The-Fly has multiple levels of access protection so, for example, only the ad agency staffers working for a specific client can change designs on its banners.

Rich media banners are cyber-ads that can carry three-dimensional graphics, sound or - most importantly - can manage transactions such as sales or membership registrations. The ads generally are more effective than regular banners at tempting Netizens to click through, and more firms are touting the banners' ability to "take the store to the traffic" - the Web industry's newest buzz phrase for placing a store on a host site that unfolds when it gets a mouse-click.

To do these things effectively, rich media banners must automatically pull information from and send information to an e-tailer's database. It's a complicated technological undertaking, and few banners companies successfully pull it off.

BlueStreak executives said ads made with their new system can interact with databases. Though the firm runs the banners on its servers, Picard said clients will handle their own media buying. BlueStreak can act as a "third-party server" behind all the major ad networks, he said.

Users can store their designs with On-The-Fly, and the system reports on the effectiveness of campaigns on a site-by-site basis. After designs are completed or changed, they can be posted online immediately.

BlueStreak plans to charge clients either for every thousand ad impressions or on a commission basis. The company is considering letting ad agencies resell the technology, said BlueStreak President Annette Tonti.

Executives adamantly said they have no aspirations of making BlueStreak a consulting or advertising firm. On the contrary, the firm is betting it can get its bread and butter designing technology that's simple enough for advertising teams to work with on their own.

"We don't want to be design people or marketers," said Tonti. "Our model is to push things out to self-service." She added that to do that, the firm has to make technology that can be used by clients without "becoming a systems integration issue."

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