Rich Media Meets the Parents

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Universal Studios Home Video is capitalizing on interactive streaming video banner ads to promote the late February video and DVD release of "Meet the Parents.''


To attract its target audience - adults ages 18 to 49 for the video and males ages 18 to 34 for the DVD - Universal is testing several rich media ads and has launched a dating horror stories Web site.


For the campaign, which started on Feb. 28 and runs through March 17, Philadelphia-based i-FRONTIER developed ads that "capture user attention with the same style of humor as the movie," said Jeremy Lockhorn, director of media technology at i-FRONTIER.


Some of the Dynamic HTML banner ads feature creative elements that fly out of one banner ad and interact with another banner ad on the page.


For example, on Maxim, iWon and other sites, a cat on a banner ad for "Meet the Parents'' at the top of the page jumps from the ad and rips up a bridal gown in a vertical banner ad for a fictional bridal shop across the page.


Superstitial ads, Flash-based interstitials that download in the background while the user reads content, are also running on Hollywood.com and Rollingstone.com.


In addition, i-FRONTIER is beta-testing a new technology from Newport, RI-based Bluestreak. It is a plug-in free streaming video solution called StreakingMedia. A 30-second trailer for "Meet the Parents'' is featured in an expandable banner ad so the trailer spans across the screen. Users also can click on the ad to order the video or DVD.


"It allows you to deliver more content into the banner and allows the consumer to interact with your brand/message without leaving the site they're on," Lockhorn said.


Gavin Finn, chief operating officer of Bluestreak, said its StreakingMedia technology used in the campaign allows for more lightweight ads that do not interrupt the user's experience while the ad is loading.


"We're able to fit video into a banner ad, to fit size restrictions in publishers' constraints," Finn said.


Because the technology lets users stay on the site and the ads are interactive, Finn thinks the ads will be more profitable than standard banner ads.


"Customer interaction with online and e-mail campaigns is one key to increasing ROI," Finn said.


In conjunction with the release, Universal launched datinghorrorstories.com, where consumers can share and read about dates gone terribly wrong. I-FRONTIER employees submitted some of the dating horror stories and end users are encouraged to submit their own to the site.


"We're hoping that will get people involved on a personal level with the site, and, by association, with the movie," Lockhorn said.


The site was created to feature some of the ads as well as to "add an element with huge viral potential," Lockhorn said.


A link is provided for users to pass funny stories on to their friends, and people who get their stories published likely will want to share the news with others.


The site includes a Milk the Cat Flash game, which plays off a scene in the movie. Visitors can milk a cat, racing against the clock to fill a milk bottle.


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