Thursday, May 17, 2007

Captive Interactive Advertising


I love me some Lost. Occasionally, I actually miss it. And because I don't own a DVR and refuse to pay for it on iTunes because it's free on abc.com, I watch it there. ABC's online distribution is top-notch. More importantly it generates advertising revenue. Even more importantly, some advertisers have gotten very smart how to capitalize on the 30" of time you are captive waiting for your streaming clip to start back up. The first that made me take notice was from Fidelity. Correct, the stodgy old Fidelity got smart with their rich media interstitials.

As you watch an episode of Grey's, Lost, Desperate Housewives, etc, ABC presents the episodes in a handful of blocks. In between said blocks, they break for 30 seconds of commercials. As a viewer, this is a pretty fair trade. You get to watch the videos on demand, and only have to suffer through three or four commercial breaks of 30 seconds instead of five or six at 3 or 4 minutes in length. With that comes a certain appreciation for the advertiser who is "presenting" the episode for your viewing entertainment. I find myself slightly (just slightly) more willing to pay attention to their ads to see what this is all about.

So. I'm watching a missed episode of Lost, which was presented by Fidelity and was shocked by their intelligent use of the interstitial. They know they have you for 30" and that you have little interest in launching a new window to view their ad. So they came up with the "Wheel of Easy". Requiring all of the intelligence mustered up from a Wheel of Fortune contestant you click "spin wheel" - you don't even have to spin the wheel yourself. Be lazy. Then you get a Ze Frank-ish video showing someone doing whatever totally easy, lazy task need be performed.

Once ABC's 30" countdown clock ended I proceeded immediately to the nearest "skip" button so I could finish watching my episode. However, the effect was achieved. For thirty seconds, not only did I watch a Fidelity ad - I engaged in it - the holy grail of advertising experiences. Not to mention I'm writing about it weeks later :/

The step Fidelity has taken is an important one, for them and for other companies trying to navigate the muddy online delivery model. Allow people to engage at a superficial manner in a captive environment and you'll grab their attention.

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