Rich Media: 101

“Rich Media” online advertising is still a new kid on the block. Most people have still not wrapped their head around the conceptual basics of what it is and how to properly execute it. The principals of traditional marketing born out of a need to grab consumers with the limited tool of a print ad simply do not apply in any way to “Rich Media”. Dollars get wasted and results are not up to par. There has to be an understanding that those old school approaches (although they have their place) need to be put aside for a moment to allow a completely new way of thinking.  This article is an overview of some of the pertinent components of a “Rich Media” campaign and closes with an unavoidable truth… Its about knowing what data to collect, how to collect it and what to do with it.

Novelty items:

Quizes, games, polling, Chat etc… I bundle these into “Novelty items” as they are essentially features that Rich Media Vendors offer to easily provide those capabilities to their customers, but they are also a way for them to compete with one another. There are many different ‘Novelty items” you can ad to a campaign. The important thing to note is that in and of themselves they will not significantly improve your results. Often the approach is a desperate attempt to add a feature to a campaign… just because you can.It has to be in context and there needs to be incentive for your potential customer to engage your novelty item. A novelty item with no context or incentive can actually cost you more money and negatively effect your ROI. Often the approach is a desperate attempt to add a feature to a campaign… just because you can. The approach should be to first identify the goals of a campaign and then determine what novelty items may help fascilitate reaching those goals. If the goal of the campaign is to sell product… a simple example of incentive could be… “Take the Quiz and get 10% off”. If the goal is to capture data… you could have a game where the potential customer has to submit there email (“data capture”) to play or when they get a highscore. Games are particularly useful if the goal of a campaign is to get the user to engage with the brand for a long period of time. The more time they spend with your brand, the more familiar and welcomed your brand will be to them.

PROS: When executed properly and in context, potential customers will spend more time with your brand increasing the chances of a purchase or brand recognition. With a data capture component you can promote to that customer over and over again in an attempt to close the sale. The added ROI out weighs any potential higher CPM/creative costs.

CONS: Without context and proper incentive it detracts from your ads message and turns off your potential customer by feeling to much like an advertising gimmick… or simply bores them. The ROI is further diminished by any potential higher CPM/creative costs.

Data Capture

Without “data capture”… that customer is lost…Data capture, Simply meaning the acquiring of a potential customers email, phone number or address is one of the most important aspects of online media. The strategy is that if someone engages with your advertising, but chooses not to click through or purchase a product… we can engage them with “novelty items” in an attempt to ‘capture’ some information from them so we can promote to them later. This extends the benefit of a campaign and the potential ROI significantly. A great example of this is… you have a campaign selling your widget for $20. A customer engages your ad, plays the game and submits their email but never clicks through or purchases a product. A week later you send an email to all those potential customers offering the product at 10% off. Without “data capture”… that customer is lost and you may never get the opportunity to promote to that potential customer.

PROS: With data capture you can continue to promote to potential customers beyond your campaign, thus increasing your chances of closing a sale. The added ROI out weighs any potential higher CPM/creative costs.

CONS: There arent many “cons” with data capture other than poor execution which results in less than your highest potential ROI. The ROI is further diminished by any potential higher CPM/creative costs.

Behavioral Optimization & Targeting

There are 2 sides to this. The creative side and the server side (website). Your website should have the ability to track where people are coming from so you can see specifically how people are finding you and the path that leads them to a sale. Keep in mind that a lot of this data is redundant. Just about every server already has software installed to see where people are coming from and your online advertising statistics let you know exactly how many people clicked through to your site. Behavioral techniques and products attempt to follow your potential customers path and continue to try and engage them with your advertising in sequential steps. There are many ways to approach behavioral targeting, but as an example… you have an ad on a website promoting a T.V. and a radio for sale. Without behavioral tracking this success is not measured…A visitor engages your ad and looks into the T.V. then continues on to another page on the site. As we now know they where interested in the T.V., the following page serves an ad that is specific to the T.V. in an attempt to close the sale. Another helpful use of “behavioral” techniques is the ability to track the success of a campaign beyond the online advertising itself. Meaning… for example… your selling music in a Rich Media ad. The user engages with the ad, but then decides to go to their personal favorite site to purchase the music rather than click your “buy now” button. Without behavioral tracking this success is not measured and included in your reports, but it exists. As with “novelty items” and “data capture”, none of this is relevant if the execution is poor. There has to be a concise strategy and that strategy should be based on the success’ and failures of previous campaigns. Behavioral techniques and products are best used when your Rich Media campaigns are not reaching there maximum potential and you need to get more data to better target and communicate with your audience. Otherwise… its ability to improve your ROI is questionable.

PROS: Executed with a concise strategy behavioral techniques can increase your ROI and give you invaluable data about your customers you could not get otherwise.

CONS: In most cases behavioral techniques are somewhat advanced and best suited for particular well strategized campaigns. Behavioral campaigns require a deeper level of communication and co-operation between creative, media and the clients marketing team. You should expect to have many more meetings and to pay more for an effective campaign strategy that makes use of behavioral techniques. This is of course justified by the increased ROI, but behavioral campaigns on the cheap will usually just be a waste of money with little in the way if improved results.

Rich Media: The bottom line

“Rich Media” is a loose term that is not exclusive to advertising. People still tend to think of “Rich Media” relating to “interactive advertising” with music, video etc… “Interactive advertising” is the delivery method for “Rich Media”… but its “Rich”, not because its interactive. Its “rich” because of the data you can collect which then empowers you to improve your campaign results based on your previous campaigns data and measure the success’ or failures. Your better off running a lighter, concisely strategic, and well thought out campaign…As demonstrated above…Its easy to collect data. The most beneficial and imperative aspect of executing a successful online campaign is the ability to understand the data and what to do with it. Companies tend to throw money at products rather than the services of a skilled online marketing consultant who knows there shit and can best determine the appropriate products and approach for your specific campaign . In most cases… Your better off running a lighter, concisely strategic, and well thought out campaign based on your previous data than huge campaigns with many features that are poorly executed. There is no escaping it. A well executed campaign requires clear and open communication between creative, media, the end client and at times the Rich Media Vendor and publishers co-operation and expertise.

In the end… The biggest benefit of Rich Media is the data. Unless you know what data to collect, how to collect it and most importantly what to do with it… your not running “Rich Media” campaigns… your simply running “interactive advertising”, crossing your fingers and hoping it works.