"A horse is a horse, of course, of course, his name is Mister
Ed!" Do any of you remember that silly jingle from the
That's not really important anyway. What IS important is that
Ed, the talking horse, was quite a phenomenon back in the 60's.
Ed talked, reasoned and displayed traits unlike any of his
There is a lesson here, of course. Millions of people watched
Mr. Ed every week just because he WAS different. And that leads
us right smack-dab into a discussion about your banner
Those poor maligned banners. Once the darlings of Internet
advertisers, they've really been getting bad-rapped lately due
to their failure to lure web surfers into clicking-thru and
creating sales. But is it the fault of the banners or have they
become so ubiquitous that the surfer hardly notices them? Why
don't we make those banners so inviting and entertaining that
users won't be able to click fast enough?
I think that content providers are too focused on consumers as
"sets of eyeballs." We need to look at these people first as
users and, secondly, as members of our online audience. And
audiences have come to expect advertising wrapped in a very
entertaining package. An essential part of that package is
Streaming audio has become a whole new industry for the Web. As
more and more people listen to music online and web-based radio,
advertisers are taking notice. These listeners, fondly called
"streamies," are devoted Internet users and active online
shoppers. They are a valuable audience as they're 70 percent
more likely to have made an online purchase than a non-streamie.
Arbitron Internet Information Services says that streamies are
quite ready to accept web advertising in exchange for free
programming, and they're more receptive and influential targets.
How can we begin to use these statistics to leverage the
effectiveness of banner ads?
Java based audio presentations can be fully integrated into your
banner advertising. Why Java based, you ask? Most important is
the fact that no plug-in or complicated player installation is
required on the part of the viewer. (The "impulse to click" is
not thwarted by the user having to take additional actions.) The
size of Java files are relatively small as well thereby
minimizing the page load issue. And, because Java is cross
platform, you can be comfortable knowing that the majority of
visitors will be able to enjoy the presentation. Java is
versatile and works well with almost any application.
What can be done with these banners? Audio can be synchronized
with your banner images and text to deliver eye and ear pleasing
messages. Slide shows can be placed within the banner. Relevant
product information can be imparted quickly and effectively
before the visitor is ever asked to click through to the
website. Special offers and promotions can be referenced to
entice the shopper. No longer are viewers merely spectators;
they are active participants.
Interactive audio banners provide the consumer with the ability
to listen to more detailed information and even to initiate the
buying function directly from the banner itself. This really
helps to capture that "impulse" buyer right at the time he's
most anxious to buy. Because it's interactive, a web visitor can
directly respond to it.
The power of audio should not be underestimated. People would
still rather hear about something than spend time reading or
sorting out passing images. Keep in mind that museums and other
institutions have offered tours for years that are accompanied
by audio scripts designed to educate the visitor yet allowing
the eye to roam freely and absorb the creative on an individual
Audio banners can also add a personal appeal to the visitor. Use
the banner to tell a story about the product or service that
invokes an emotional response. Talk about the product's benefits
to the consumer and how the product will improve his
life/work/relationships. Use the banner to whet people's
appetites for additional information. Never lose sight of the
fact that people make buying decisions based on emotional
reasons and design your banner presentation accordingly.
It is far too early for any of us to dismiss the banner ad as an
idea whose time has past. We have to step back, take an
objective view, and start thinking about how we can make them
more than just billboards. As the Internet leaves its infancy
and enters the "toddler" stage, we need to remind ourselves that
we're still dealing with a new medium. And that this new medium
is still largely unexplored.
About the author:
Ronni Rhodes is the owner of WBC Imaging, an Internet company
that specializes in web site enhancement utilizing streaming
media technology. With her husband, Don, a broadcast engineer,
they work with companies to incorporate streaming as part of
successful and meaningful sales and marketing programs. Please
direct all questions and comments to: Ronni@wbcimaging.com