Online advertisers have coined the term ‘live banner’ to mean a display ad or banner that contains live data – in other words the content may update after the ad has been published to the Internet and is ‘in flight’. It’s important to recognize the difference between an ad whose content merely changes to a different set of pre-programmed data, and one that can be updated with genuinely new content that didn’t exist at the time the ad was created.
The former is merely a dynamic ad, which uses animated transitions to display different content that is nevertheless contained within the banner ad file produced by the ad agency and distributed by ad servers to your browser. This kind of ad can be programmed to switch content or functionality according to predefined parameters such as date, time, user’s browser etc, but the range of content it can show is finite, due to strict file size limits imposed by publishers, and has to be considered and planned in advance.
A true ‘live banner’ is designed with a number of variable elements that can be edited or switched on the fly to alternate content which is loaded into the ad after it has been distributed. This ability to update means that the live banner can show content which has not been planned or produced in advance, opening the door to the concept of ‘Real-Time Marketing’. Whereas it typically takes days or even weeks to schedule a developer to make changes to a regular Flash banner, the marketing department to approve the revised content, and the ad-ops personnel to re-traffic the ad, a live banner can be edited on the fly by non-technical personnel, and immediately republished to its audience without the need for retrafficking.
Live banners are used for a variety of marketing applications that take advantage of Internet connectivity to adjust the advertising message from time to time according to business needs. A typical application is the promotion of perishable commodities such as airline seats or concert tickets, highlighting real-time availability and perhaps discounting price as the end date gets nearer. Marketing strategists use the technology to try unlimited variations of the same ad, comparing performance to identify the most successful variants and hence optimize their online advertising spend.
With a little more planning and connectivity, live banners can be devised with automatic updating of content. It’s easy to conceive applications whereby advertising content is driven by a web database or enterprise system, steering attention to opportunities which match the advertiser’s specific business needs as they change, day by day or even minute by minute.
Live banners can be produced using various technologies, though Adobe’s Flash is currently the most popular choice given its widespread adoption by the online advertising community. Flash provides comprehensive cross-platform browser support, strong multimedia capability, and a powerful scripting language for flexible programming, including various options to handle the import of external data. It’s also very easy for advertisers to deliver, containing multimedia elements, textual copy, program script and fonts within a single SWF file.
How do advertisers create and manage campaigns with several live banners, each needing to be securely edited, verified, published and tracked? Our solution is Immedium – the real-time advertising platform. To learn more, download the Advertiser’s Guide to Immedium.