This year, Ad Age, in recognition of the maturation of the interactive advertising industry, has restructured the Interactive portion of its Best awards. In previous years the entries have been broken down into the categories of best marketing Web site and CD-ROM. Now the entrants are judged in the categories of branding (no commerce) Web site, e-commerce Web site and online ad. All entrants were judged by a panel of the Ad Age editorial staff.
Best Online ad: Hewlett-Packard.
From the company that led the rich media charge with its infamous "Pong" Shockwave banners comes a series of Mad-Lib-like banners using the Enliven technology from the @Home Network. Surfers' attentions get sucked into the ad by the chance to fill in the blanks in a mock e-mail or chat setting. Quirky text and images accompany a not-subtle sell of HP's network printers. The ads were created by SF Interactive, San Francisco, for Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
Best Branding site: Herman Miller
Office furniture, by its very nature, generally bores people. Images of beige cubicles covered with beige computer equipment, piles of periodicals and stacks of faxes are far from scintillating. Which is what makes Herman Miller's Levity line (levity.hermanmiller.com), and the Ad Age Best Branding site that supports it, so unusual. Genex Interactive, Los Angeles, has taken a product that by itself is an exciting entry in a boring field, and brought that brand image to life using both traditional image and text Web tools, coupled with some higher-tech 3D renderings of the product using QuickTime VR. Rather than just showing the product, the site does a superb job of telling the product's story and drawing the user in further.
Best E-commerce site: Eddie Bauer.
Eddie Bauer's site provides a straightforward interface to a comprehensive online shopping center. Its virtual dressing room adds a bit of a high-end toy for the geeks among us, while allowing consumers from all backgrounds to mix and match outfits on cyber-mannequins. However, the simplicity of the shopping experience -- from browsing to ordering -- is what will lure customers and take them right to the sale. Eddiebauer.com was created by one of the industry's