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Tricks with Flash Advertising

Flash has a vast array of tricks up its sleeve that make it more engaging than a standard JPEG. The tricks range from playing with animation techniques to using DHTML and the AcitveX plugin.

Some of the popular tricks are:

  • Presentations
  • DHTML
  • Microsoft's ActiveX

Presentations

A disadvantage with current banner ads is that the ad is limited to a single graphic. That graphic, whether it is JPEG or GIF, cannot do much more than send a user to another Web page. With Flash, you can build complex presentations.

There is no reason why you cannot story board your ad to have a quick five second intro movie that leads into an interactive presentation.

The presentation is the key. With Flash, you can present a user with a number of choices. For instance, a Samsung ad (see Figure 6) can present three or four tabs that lead to different products. Select a tab and you can read more information about a different product. Want more? Click on the link to the website.

Figure 6Figure 6 A vertical "Skyscraper" ad.

The deceptive trick here is that the customer is not immediately whisked to a mammoth website and forced to hunt and peck for the content they want. Instead you present the user with a finite set of choices. While they are interacting with the ad, they are learning more about your company and brand. If a customer takes the next step and clicks on the link to your website, they have become extremely informed... and there is a good chance that they will eventually buy something.

DHTML

The best ads are a subtle blend of tricks. Dynamic HTML is just another tool that can be used in this bag of tricks.

CNet (see Figure 7) is trying some cool new tricks with ads. Go to any one of their websites, such as News.com or Cnet.com, and a traditional banner ad will be displayed over the top of the page. Along the edge of the ad is a "+" sign. Click on the symbol and a large Flash ad appears.

Figure 7Figure 7 Expandable Advertising — smart use of limited browser viewing space.

So, how do they do it? It is all JavaScript. The whole banner is created and scripted with JavaScript. When you click on the "+" sign, a command is sent that converts the banner to a larger Flash movie.

Microsoft's ActiveX

Microsoft's ActiveX is the technology that allows plugins to work within Internet Explorer. The Flash Player has a number of unique tools that make it engaging for ad tricks.

When Flash is placed within a page, the code looks like the following:

<OBJECT classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" 
codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/
flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" WIDTH="700" HEIGHT="800" id=
"subtitle_games" ALIGN="middle">
<PARAM NAME=movie VALUE="main.swf"> 
<PARAM NAME=quality VALUE=high> 
<PARAM NAME=wmode value=transparent> 
<PARAM NAME=bgcolor VALUE=#FFFFFF> 
</OBJECT>

The key "Param" to catch is "wmod". WMODE allows you to set the background of a Flash Movie as transparent. OK, neat trick, but how can that relate to ad sales? The trick becomes effective when the background Web page to the movie can still be interacted with. For instance, when the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released, a series of ads ran with Harry's owl flying across the Web page. The animation was created with Flash. The Flash movie was placed in a large DHTML Layer that lay on top of the page and the WMODE param set to "transparent". The final effect was an owl flying over the page — the key was that the page was still accessible. Finally, an interstitial ad that is not annoying!

You can find out more about this technology in my other article "Macromedia Flash Integration with Dreamweaver."

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