Solbright Lets Formats Work Together

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Nobody loves press releases more than the rich-media advertising industry. It seems that almost every ad campaign is a cause for celebration.


Why is this? The short answer is that almost every rich-media ad campaign truly is a cause for celebration. Getting this stuff up and running hasn't been a walk in the park. In fact, until recently, deploying a typical rich-media campaign has been like signing up for a triathlon.


Pretend you work at the average whiz-bang technology company, for example, and you've just invented the latest rich-media advertising gizmo, a technology so powerful that it just hypnotizes folks into buying stuff. Now the real fun starts: Sites won't configure their systems to handle your new gizmo until they're sure an agency wants to use it, and even then a gun has to be put to their heads. Agencies don't want to get their clients excited unless they know sites will actually take their money and put it up. Welcome to the Internet's Catch-22.


Fortunately, things have begun to change. Some rich-media companies are getting around the site issue by signing agreements and forging partnerships with entire ad networks. Comet Systems works with 24/7 Media to deliver a banner that also delivers a dynamically generated cursor when it rotates on to the page. Unicast's Superstitial technology works easily across the DoubleClick Network and others.


All of this is great, of course, but it really doesn't go to the root of the problem: How does a media buyer target specific sites with specific technologies, test and monitor the buy, and track results easily? How do independent sites, which want to grab those rich-media ad bucks, incorporate every new format that comes down the pike in a cost-efficient manner?


One company tackling this problem head on is Solbright. I first became aware of the folks at Solbright a few months ago because of a trade organization I run called the Rich Media SIG. At our monthly meetings I kept seeing piles of business cards from Solbright in the sign-up bowl. Out of curiosity, I finally went down to its office to check out what the company is up to. I walked away a changed fellow.


Solbright, New York, has invented a complete back-end workflow solution for online publishers and agencies which has been designed to handle the issues surrounding richmedia file types. AdSuite, a series of tools which includes their AdTraffic Manger and AdSales Manager products, completely automates trafficking and production processes for the harried Web publisher. On the agency side, Solbright markets a product called Dispatch, which handles creation and tracking of insertion orders and lets agencies test rich media ads before they are sent to the publisher.


To illustrate how AdSuite can simplify the deployment of rich media ads, Key Compton, Solbright's president/CEO, told me that one of his salespeople, feeling rather cocky, issued a challenge to a publisher he was visiting: Give me your most difficult rich-media ad and let's see how fast the AdTraffic Manager system can process it. Sending the creative via e-mail, the system was able to extract the attachment, optimize the file, and format it so that it was ready to post, all in under one minute.


According to Key, the publisher later confessed that they had tried to put the saleperson in his place by giving him a file that had taken them more than nine hours to process!


Besides extracting HTML, JavaScript, Enliven, Bluestreak, and other rich media types from e-mail attachments, AdSuite can check and verify all links, as well as clean up any redundancies or unnecessary code, making the ad smaller and more efficient. It also checks the ad against site-specific requirements like file size, dimensions, and restrictions on rich media types.


All of this is a good thing for the advertising industry as a whole, not just the rich media industry. We've all read the upside to rich media: increased click-through, better branding, increased interactivity, and a more enhanced experience. When done well, rich media can just make you stop and go "wow".


With a few more solutions like Solbright out there, the "wow" factor for on-line advertising looks very "bright" indeed.


Bill McCloskey is the comet evangelist at Comet Systems, New York, and founder of the Rich Media Special Interest Group.
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