Enliven's Four-Tier Approach Aims to Overcome Banner Shortfalls

Narrative Communications Corp. is expected this week to announce two additions to Enliven Services, an online ad delivery and reporting service featuring among its offerings the much-hyped transactional banners demonstrated with Eddie Bauer in February.

The additions, Enliven/Impulse and Enliven/HardCopy, mean Enliven Services is now available in four tiers. Enliven/Impulse features credit-card transactional banners that allow secure purchases, and Enliven/HardCopy includes banners that are printer-enabled so that advertisers can supply more information or make a special offer with a printed document. Enliven/Capture banners collect contact information. Enliven/Impact is a branding service.

Enliven-enabled banners allow consumers to interact with the banners without leaving the site. The technology answers what many marketers see as an inherent pitfall in traditional banners.

Typically, online merchants place banners on heavily trafficked sites such as search engines in the hopes that people will click on their banners to visit their sites. Many marketers think traditional banners create a conflict by forcing users to choose between finishing their business on the current site or being whisked away to the advertiser's site.

Jim Nail, senior analyst with Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA, said the conflict manifests itself more in marketers' minds than in consumer behavior.

“[Consumers] know they can always hit the 'back' button,” he said. Still, Nail is bullish on Narrative's offering. “They've put together a very solid strategy.”

Evan Neufeld, online advertising analyst for Jupiter Communications, New York, approves of Narrative's four-tiered approach, but said that like any Internet-advertising services vendor, Narrative, Waltham, MA, has a tough sell ahead.

“For every prescient advertiser, there are about five who are locked in 1972,” Neufeld said. “They [Narrative] not only have to sell the product, they have to sell the medium. I think their sweet spot will be [Enliven/Capture].”

Among the merchants on board for Enliven's launch is Godiva Chocolatier, New York. The company is testing Enliven/Impulse transactional banners for a campaign aimed at boosting online sales for Mother's Day.

Adam Rockmore, Godiva's senior marketing manager, said the company bought 100,000 impressions each on Preview Travel (www.previewtravel.com), Discovery (www.discovery.com) and The Weather Channel (.www.weather.com). “We're trying to get a sample this holiday,” said Rockmore, who also is testing whether consumers are comfortable enough to offer their credit card numbers without visiting the Godiva site.

1-800-FLOWERS, has chosen Enliven/Impulse banner ads as its primary online promotional vehicle for Mother's Day.

“We've been looking for something like this for a while to help us set up shop anywhere we have a relationship and increase conversion,” said Rebecca Kovrlija, marketing manager of interactive services at 1-800-FLOWERS, Westbury, NY. “When people [are forced to] click through to your Web site and through the different layers, conversion rates start to go down. This is like having a portable cash register.”

1-800-FLOWERS is placing between 500,000 and 5 million impressions (depending on how well they sell) on sites such as iVillage, PC World, Excite and WebCrawler.

Kovrlija said a test order placed through an Enliven/Impulse banner resulted in a 75-minute delivery of the bouquet.

“We would never guarantee 75-minute delivery, but the faster the better,” she said.

1-800-FLOWERS plans to use Enliven/Capture banners to collect names for its online gift-reminder service, said Kovrlija. She added that the Internet is responsible for 10 percent of 1-800-FLOWERS' business.

Other merchants who have signed on for Enliven's launch are clothier Eddie Bauer, which intends to test jeans sales, and Hewlett Packard, which is testing the Enliven/HardCopy service to sell printers.

Enliven/Impulse is priced per-sale, and Enliven/Capture is priced per-lead. Enliven/HardCopy charges advertisers by the downloaded document. And Enliven/Impact is priced per-thousand-impressions.

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