Trending: Interactive web ads

So most of us sat here in England are experiencing maverick weather conditions that appear to promise one thing and deliver another, like some sort of fickle summer suitor without the compliments.  It leaves me with no choice but to do as so many of us do these days and spend my spare time looking at various screens, rather than risk being alternately drenched and dried (I’m working on the driving licence!).

As somebody making a career in media and advertising, and as someone who’s always been interested in stories and how they are told, this week I’ve chosen to look at a quietly-growing new style of advertising online.   You already get plenty of ads that let you skip them in a few seconds, particularly on YouTube, or that play automatically on the side of a page with the option to turn sound on.  Hence, there are opt-in/out ads already.

However, something that is relatively new and slowly on the rise are ads that present you with a choice of viewing options.  Mostly seen on Channel 4’s 4oD service, the first people I saw to do this were, somewhat obviously, Red Bull a couple of years ago – they are known to be early adopters of new and innovative techniques of branding and marketing.  This first ad featured two separate scenarios and the viewer is presented with the question: ‘Who gets their wings?’, bringing in the traditional brand message and using their distinctive style of animation.

The clever part is that the viewer is given 30 seconds to choose a scenario before one plays automatically – the point being that if the viewer engages with the ad, it is over with quicker.  By encouraging this interaction, the viewer is brought directly into contact with the ad, and therefore the brand and its messages.  The benefits of interactive advertising and the psychology behind engagement are well documented.  As entertainment viewing on mobile and internet platforms continues to grow, I predict a strong future for this type of advertising – since seeing the first Red Bull advert, other companies to adopt this style include Estee Lauder, Sky, Disney and Cadbury (which has several different ‘Goo Goo games’ to watch, making the campaign strongly memorable and potentially prompting follow-up interest from the viewer).


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