MCI Promotion to Use Rich Media Ads Exclusively

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Turning its back on banners, MCI WorldCom will promote its BonusMiles program at travel sites later this month using only DHTML and superstitial rich media ads.


This long-distance provider had tested a DHTML ad on the Travelocity and Expedia sites from July through Sept. earlier this year. DHTML can allow for animated gifs that draw attention to the company's ad.


The ad, which offered up to 5,000 Bonus Miles for joining MCI WorldCom, yielded a click-through rate of 6 percent, according to Sean Black, vice president of interactive media for Grey Direct Interactive Media, NY, which is involved in the program. The industry average for a standard banner ad is less than 1 percent.


"We're getting a lot better response with the more dynamic ads," said Black. "The new campaign will be just superstitial and DHTML."


The company hopes to build upon this success with the DHTML ad launching later this month. At press time the ad was still under construction, but it should be similar to the test ad, which featured a small airplane that flew across the content of the screen. The consumer could click on the plane itself or the banner ad on the page.


MCI WorldCom, Clinton, MS, is expanding its rich-media efforts by testing a superstitial for the first time during this campaign. The ad, which uses technology provided by Unicast, San Francisco, will run for 30 seconds in their entirety. The creative could feature a cameo by Michael Jordan to coincide with its television campaign, but nothing was finalized at press time.


"We have no idea how well the superstitial will work, but we've received a lot of really positive feedback from different types of companies that have used it," said Jane Lindner, account manager for e.marketing, New York, a partner of Grey Direct that is helping launch the campaign. " If it's successful we may use it as an example to show other sites that superstitials won't hurt their editorial content. Right now there's some concern that these ads may be intrusive."


The benefit of using the superstitial is that the ad will allow consumers to interact with brand by showing them what the miles can be used for right at the site they are visiting, vs. zipping them away to a MCI site, according to Black. "We know people don't want to leave the site they are on because they're researching their travel plans," he said. "Next year we plan to let them do the [program sign-up] right there within the superstitial."


Sites were reluctant to run such ads, but these new technologies are quickly gaining acceptance, said Lindner. "At first sites were wary of using DHTML. They thought users would have trouble loading their pages, but they're finding it's really a simple format to use," she said.
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