The next version of the company's Enliven software, to be announced next week, includes a feature called Expand, which lets banner ads grow to fill a screen when readers interact with the ad, and shrink back down when they're done.
New campaigns from Proctor & Gamble Co. (NYSE:PG) and Omaha Steaks will feature the technology, officials at Narrative said. The Omaha Steaks ad will combine the expand feature with Narrative's Impulse technology, which lets users make purchases through a banner ad. "Consumers are saying they don't want intrusive ads like interstitial ads, and publisher sites are saying, 'We can't donate any more space to ads,' " said Scott Kliger, chief technology officer at Narrative. "So Expand only happens with interaction, and [the ad] automatically contracts back to its original size once you leave." The new software also integrates RealNetworks Inc.'s (Nasdaq:RNWK) streaming media technology, allowing banner ads to play video and audio. Unilever NV will use the technology in a campaign for its new Mentadent Crystal Ice toothpaste, with ads showing extreme skiers.
Expand technology 'awesome'
Forrester Research analyst Jim Nail said the Expand technology is "awesome."
"This version of Enliven ... makes it orders of magnitude easier to do rich media, given the bandwidth constraints we're living with," he said, adding that publisher sites may initially be skeptical about possible technology problems with the software. "Rich media, up till now, has been buggy and caused problems, so further functionality will be met with skepticism for a while," he said. "But they'll realize it's a good thing because people are staying on the site instead of clicking off the site."