Rich Media Firm Uses Web Awards to Implant Player

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Rich media advertising company Onflow is banking on a virtual award for Internet-only movies to get people to download the player necessary to view its ads.


Dubbed the first Online Motion Pixure Production Awards, or Pixies, the award gives the company entry to some of the most popular independent and short-film Web sites on the Internet. These include Atomfilms.com, Honkworm.com, StreamSearch.com and WireBreak.com. The Pixie is a virtual award designed with Onflow's rich media technology. It will honor the Internet film industry's top actors, directors, screenwriters, artists, cinematographers and Web designers at a ceremony in Los Angeles June 29. The awards will be Webcast on Yack.com, which is one of the event's sponsors.


Instead of being handed a statue or trophy, the winners will be presented with a URL to view the graphically enhanced award, which will exist only in cyberspace. This URL will be posted on the homepages of all the winners, sponsors and any other site containing the film.


To see the Internet-only award, viewers will have to download the player -- which also is needed to view Onflow's ads. Once the download is in a person's PC, the user can instantly see the ads on any site that offers them.


"It's a perfect opportunity to get people interested in our technology," said Ellen Seebold, director of marketing communications at Onflow, San Francisco. "These are top visual sites and make the perfect blend for our full-motion, television-quality advertisements."


Onflow is a technology similar to Flash, in that a player is needed to view any graphics created with the technology. This includes not only rich media advertising but also any games and animation that can be made with the self-authoring utility available for the technology. If users have not downloaded the player, they will see a slower, less impressive animated GIF.


"We realize we have to work very diligently to make the inclusion of Onflow technology into Web sites as seamless as possible," said Bill Niffenegger, co-founder and vice president at Onflow.


Unlike Flash, however, Onflow's business model -- which includes an advanced tracking and monitoring system -- relies on companies using the technology to make ads. The main selling point is that once the player is downloaded, people have to wait no longer than usual for a page or ad to load, even if they are connected to the Net on a 28.8K modem.


Stacy Smellin, director of studio at DoubleClick, New York, said that with a flood of new rich media advertising companies currently glutting the market, this is a ripe opportunity for Onflow.


"The best thing they can do is align themselves with specific content so that people will voluntarily download the player," Smellin said. "Generally speaking, people are not going to download a player for an advertisement. So if they can get the player in a scenario where it's attached to something the user wants to see, then it's great. The company will only be successful if people can see [its technology]."
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