Site Tests Superstitial's Effectiveness

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Personalized gift provider Things Remembered tested its first superstitial advertisement this week at E! Online, and the results from that test will dictate whether the company will continue to run the ad through Christmas, and possibly the first quarter of 2000, or cut it.

The superstitial is one component in a $400,000 online marketing campaign which began Oct. 27 to promote, which launched Sept. 30.

"We're in test mode," said Steve Ronson, senior vice president of merchandising for Things Remembered. "We're new to the online game. We've spent 30 years in the personalized gift market, but only a month trying to meet consumer's needs online. We're going to see what works and what doesn't."

There is plenty of money budgeted for this expensive online advertising form if the ad proves successful. Things Remembered plans to spend $2.5 million in advertising next year, with roughly 60 percent of the budget allocated to online marketing.

The superstitial ad pops up and runs between page loads at E! Online. It plays gentle piano music while displaying six personalized gift categories: holiday, wedding, new baby, office, birthday and anniversary. If a consumer selects a category, four gift suggestions complete with a text description and price are revealed. If the customer clicks on a product, they brought to the Things Remembered site to fill out an order form. The ad lasts 15 seconds.

The company decided to test superstitials after research showed that consumers like lots of choices and information delivered to the site they are viewing rather than being hijacked by a banner ad. "This way they can view the information and decide if they want to come to the site now or later," he said.

The campaign's primary focus is women 25 to 40 years old. To reach this demographic, traditional banner ads and buttons have been placed at, iVillage and a number of online versions of popular women's magazines. The creative was designed by Grey Direct Interactive Media, NY.

Superstitials, which were created by Unicast, San Francisco, differ from interstitials in that they don't compete for user's bandwidth. They are downloaded into the user's browser cache while the Web site is being viewed. Once it is loaded and a user clicks to a new page, the ad appears. Interstitials can taking up to five seconds to load, said Unicast spokeswoman Hilary Fadner.

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