Fuel Fires New Convergence Test With Amicada

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Advertising agency Fuel North America has signed a deal with Amicada Inc. to place clients' television commercials on the Internet.

Using Amicada software, consumers will soon be able to view TV-quality commercials on their computer desktops in lieu of rewards for following suggested actions while watching the spots.

"We don't [yet] know how it'll benefit our clients," said Andrew Deitchman, partner and director of client services at Fuel, New York. "Essentially, what we're doing is a test of how this form of advertising will be able to move clients' business forward."

Fuel will use Amicada's Personal Video and Content System to run online spots on computers in a full-motion, full-screen format that reflects the TV ad.

The ads will be placed on Amicada's online advertising system, allowing TV-quality content online and offline, regardless of the bandwidth of the consumer's Internet connection.

Consumers must download the Amicada software, which downloads participating advertisers' commercials. The spots play even when the consumer is not online.

"It sits on someone's desktop and you don't even have to be online," Deitchman said. "Whereas the interactive TV stuff we've done in the past is bringing PC value to TV, this is bringing TV value to PC."

The incentive for consumers is in following the actions recommended along with the spots. Consumers might be asked questions after viewing a spot and could be encouraged to click on links for several actions. In return, they may be rewarded with loyalty points.

"The way that we've approached this is we can put in whatever advertisers want," Deitchman said. "I would expect that we would have four to six advertisers. There's no downside for them and it's essentially free for them. And you can have a range of advertisers [in different industries]."

Opened in 1999, Fuel is an integrated marketing services division of Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG. Clients include Volvo Cars of North America, Intel, New Balance and EchoStar.

Like many agencies, Fuel is worried consumers -- aided by technology like TiVo -- might figure out ways to bypass ads in traditional media such as TV.

"The theory is that ultimately, with all the new devices in the market -- like TiVo, where you can zap commercials -- things like that are going to make advertisers think of new ways to communicate with viewers. A lot of that will be on an opt-in basis."

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