New technology boosts online ads

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With advances in live chat, online video and rich media technologies, b-to-b marketers are using banner ads in innovative ways to reach and engage their target audiences.

Last month, as part of the launch of its Quad Core processor, Intel Corp. used a new online ad format that lets users conduct live chat sessions within a banner ad.

The online campaign, called "Four Days of Dialogue," used a live group chat banner unit developed by technology company Avivocom. During the campaign, Intel technology experts were available to answer questions from users.

The campaign was developed by Universal McCann, New York.

"If you look at the business and IT community, they are going online and that is where they're getting information," said Sandra Lopez, integrated marketing communications manager at Intel. "The online environment is becoming more user-initiated," she added. "We do not want to speak to the IT community—we want to speak with them and engage them."

Intel's live chat campaign was part of a broader initiative that included print and a Web site at

Looking for Traffic at 4 p.m.

To promote the "Four Days of Dialogue" campaign, which debuted at 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 14, Intel ran a teaser ad on technology sites including Anandtech, CNET, Slashdot and Tom's Hardware.

"Our agency took a look at when these sites have an increase in traffic in the U.S., and that occurs at about 4 p.m. ET," Lopez said. "It also fit nicely with the overall campaign idea (promoting Quad Core, which means four processors)."

The teaser ad let users know that something big was going to be happening on Nov. 14. The day of the launch, Intel ran an ad with a countdown to the live chat, then a banner with copy reading "Join chat now."

Users could type questions into the banner, as well as see questions that other users were asking. Intel experts answered the inquiries, which ranged from questions about Intel processors to server technology.

"The idea of a chat is not unusual in the tech space," said David Cohen, exec VP-director of digital communications at Universal McCann. "What is unusual is bringing the chat to the target audience."

Cohen said this was the first time the agency conducted a live group chat within a banner ad. One of the compelling reasons for doing so is that users are not sent off to another site, he said.

Lopez added: "This really fits into our overall strategy of how do we effectively reach our target audience and articulate the value to their business. It also aligns to our brand attributes of being new and innovative."

Other b-to-b marketers are taking advantage of new online video technology within banner ads to reach business and technology decision-makers online.

In October, rich media company Accela Communications launched an on-demand online video series called "Innovate," sponsored by AT&T and Hewlett-Packard Co.

The online video programs play within standard Flash-based banner ads and are running on the IT Video Network, a network of sites including,, and select TechTarget sites.

The programs are between six and seven minutes long and feature technology content that users can play on demand. HP sponsored the first program, "Blade Servers"; AT&T sponsored the second, "Business Continuity."

Interactive features

The ads contain several interactive features that allow marketers to reach their target audience, said Ann Roskey, VP-marketing at Accela Communications. Banner ads promoting the video programs contain a short video clip and the sponsor's logo. To view the complete video, users click on the ad and are taken to a short registration page within it.

"Lead generation comes through the registration form, and marketers can follow up with direct messaging," Roskey said.

Once users are registered, they can play the video programs, using controls to pause, rewind or fast-forward.

The programs are hosted by technology writer Paul Gillin, principal of Paul Gillin Communications and former publisher at TechTarget. (Gillin also writes a monthly column for BtoB.)

The programs feature interviews with experts and profiles of companies that are making a difference with technology. They are not vendor-specific, although sponsors can run a short video clip prior to the start. Within each program is a Q&A section, allowing users to e-mail questions to the experts being interviewed. The experts will e-mail responses back to the users (not in a live chat format).

"One of the key things about the IT Video Network is that it provides a broad reach for the vendor messaging, which is an important component of video advertising," Roskey said.

Also last month, technology company ON24 announced the launch of Bannercast Live, a streaming video platform for banner advertising. Marketers can use Bannercast Live to deliver webcasts and other streaming video content within banner ads.

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