MSN, AOL and Yahoo! Expand Support for Rich Media Ads

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NEW YORK ( -- In an effort to lure more rich media advertisers and agencies, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN today said it would support the rich media technologies of Eyeblaster and Point.roll.

The move is a departure from MSN's previous policy of running all rich media ad programs with its own in-house technologies. Under the new arrangement, both vendors' technology will be offered across MSN's 12 most popular channels, including CNBC on MSN Money, MSNBC on the Internet, MSN Carpoint and MSN eShop.

Hyundai and Ford
Currently, Hyundai Motor America is using Eyeblaster on MSN and Ford Motor Co. ran a Flash program on the MSN home page.

Eyeblaster and Point.roll are two of the most widely used rich media technologies. Eyeblaster will offer three rich media ad formats on MSN: floating ads, full-page overlays, and interstitial window ads. The formats can accommodate a host of interactive features and incorporate reminders, data collection and ad replay.

Point.roll's rich media ads feature expanding panes that offer Extensible Markup Language (XML) and data feeds, scrolling graphics, data collection, coupon-like offers and Flash-based content.

'Two buckets'
Mike Hurt, group manager

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of ad product planning at MSN, said selecting the appropriate vendors was a tough decision but was made somewhat easier because "rich media today falls into two buckets."

"There are over-the-page ad products and then there are the traditional rich media products that happen within the banner, where users click on the banner," he said, adding that MSN wanted to have one vendor that represented each category. Mr. Hurt said he sees Flash and DHTML, or dynamic HTML, on the rise. "We think Macromedia Flash 5.0 hits 96% of MSN users, that's a great common denominator," Mr. Hurt added.

AOL Time Warner's America Online, which has had a tough time accommodating rich media programs using third-party technology, has stepped up its use of Viewpoint, a vendor that uses animation, 360-degree views and zoom-in technology.

Yahoo's rich media summit
Yahoo!, which also wants to attract more rich media advertising, last week hosted a creative summit in New York drawing interactive agency creative directors, marketers such as Johnson & Johnson and rich media vendors.

In other online advertising developments, Unicast, the provider of in-between page (Superstitial), over-page and in-page ad units, today released standard design and development specifications for creating and buying over-page and in-page rich media ads. Unicast has been an aggressive supporter of online ad standards -- last month it launched its Online Format Suite, a set of online ad formats designed to offer online creatives and media buyers and planners the same kind of efficiencies their offline counterparts have.

For example, digital marketing programs implemented across several Web sites often involve several different interactive ad formats and the possibility of having to create multiple executions to accommodate each site or portal's specifications. Unicast's new suite enables advertisers to use their offline creative, including TV commercials, to create Superstitial ads as well as over-page and in-page ads for Web-based campaigns.

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