Net Ad Campaign Promotes Web Movies

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In an Internet advertising campaign that doesn't include a single banner ad, Stein Rogan & Partners hopes to create a market for a new type of entertainment product available on the Web.

The product is the Web-based Multipath Movie series, created by Brilliant Digital Entertainment. The movies, which are accessed through the Web, allow viewers to use their computers to make decisions about which way the plot will turn as the movie progresses. Movies are designed to be seamless, so if a viewer doesn't make a decision, a default path will be selected without any interruption.

To view movies, viewers first must buy a digital projector that costs between $5 and $20, depending on whether it is purchased on the Web or at retail stores, and then select a pay-per-view movie.

Through a campaign beginning this month on the Geocities Internet community, Stein Rogan & Partners, New York, plans to target older children and teen-agers for the product, which debuted earlier this year. Initially, Stein Rogan will contact 150,000 new members of six Geocities neighborhoods within the community using welcome e-mails that Geocities sends shortly after people join. Neighborhoods being targeted include Times Square, geared toward entertainment; Enchanted Forest, which has a fantasy theme; and Area 51, which attracts science-fiction enthusiasts.

The agency will use e-mail to reach the 1,300 people designated by Geocities as "community leaders," who are influential in the chat discussions within the communities.

"Our challenge now is getting people to understand it, educating people about it and getting people to try something new," said Thomas Stein, president of Stein Rogan.

The e-mail promoting the site will take the form of invitations to review a movie. Six different offers, ranging from a free digital projector to a free first movie or 20 percent off the cost of movies for life will be tested to encourage people to review a movie. The offers will be completely random so that all offers will be tested in each community. In addition, community leaders will be offered strong incentives for referring others to the product.

"We'll be able to find out what is a better trigger. We will learn psychographic and affinity information. There will be a lot of learning," Stein said. "Of course, the goal is to make a profit, but we will also learn a lot in the process."

Customers who accept the offer to review a movie will get a movie review form to fill out, Stein said. After completing the review, they will receive thank-you notes and encouragement to try another movie. Upsells will be tested with people who submit rave reviews.

Separately, continuing with the movie review theme, Geocities will encourage visitors to a movie reviewers forum on its site to review Brilliant Digital Entertainment's Multipath movies. The agency has contracted for 450,000 impressions through that avenue. The campaigns, scheduled to begin early this month, are expected to last four to six weeks.

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