Warner takes virtual approach to ads

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`Environmental' context on Web calls attention

Forget banner ads on World Wide Web sites. If advertisers really want consumers to pay attention to their messages, environmental advertising is the way to go.

That's what Jim Moloshok, Warner Bros. senior VP-marketing and advertising, is pitching.

The newly launched Warner Bros. Virtual Lot, on the Web and on America Online, features ads on billboards and storefronts in the mock back-lot streets.

Clicking on an ad for the game "Chomp!" brings viewers to a screen that allows them to download the game or order a CD-ROM version. The screen explains that "Chomp!" is similar to Pac-Man and is presented by Gummi Savers, produced by the Planter's Lifesavers division of Nabisco Foods. The candies are also visible in the concession stand on another screen.

Likewise, Warner has sold a storefront to 1-800-Flowers that will appear exclusively in the Virtual Lot on AOL. And in Warner's new Insomniac's Asylum site on AOL, an ad for Starbucks will appear on the TV set above a bar on one screen, as well as in other places on the site.

"Advertisers are beginning to realize that online is not just a substitute for print. It's a medium unto itself, and we need to develop new ways to advertise on it," Mr. Moloshok said.

USERS PREFER CONTEXTUAL ADS

While he declined to discuss ad prices, industry insiders said Warner was getting a $55 cost-per-thousand.

Mr. Moloshok said focus group data show consumers are much more amenable to these types of environmental ads than they are to tradional online banner ads.

In a presentation to the Coalition for Advertising Supported Entertainment scheduled for last week in New York, Mr. Moloshok noted that measurement techology must keep up with online programming technology.

Companies must develop ways of measuring ads that don't fit in the constraints of a banner, he said. Warner, for example, plans a music countdown show using RealAudio technology that will feature ads at various intervals.

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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