Narrative lets Net users buy direct from ad banners

Narrative Communications Corp. wants to outfit Web surfers with jeans.

The company unveiled technology today that will let Web surfers buy items directly from banner ads without leaving their current site. The first example of the technology will be on display through ads for Eddie Bauer, which is teaming up with Narrative to sell jeans. Narrative's updated Enliven client and server technology will allow surfers to select a size and submit credit card information at the banner ad without ever entering the Eddie Bauer site. The ads will appear sometime this year, Narrative Chief Executive Hilmi Ozguc said.

"We're really excited about driving e-commerce," he said. The Enliven ads will provide advertisers with concrete numbers showing whether their banner ads are translating into sales. Narrative hopes the technology-and the promise of quantifiable feedback-will convince more companies to advertise online.

"We've heard the advertisers tell us they like the attention they get with banner ads, but they want to be able to capture leads and sell products," Ozguc said, adding that the new technology will put more products in front of consumers. "You go where the customers are rather than having them come to you."

Ozguc said companies in the travel, book, and hardware space also are considering using the new technology to design their ads. It will incorporate payment feature of Microsoft's SiteServer 3.0 Web building software.

Narrative has been a pioneer in the arena of interactive banner ads, thanks to its Enliven technology. Narrative gained recognition last fall for developing multimedia ads that incorporated audio, video, and games. The company was behind an ad for AT&T Corp. featuring a little girl knocking at a door and shouting "let me in" when she popped up on a site. The surprise audio component was dropped shortly after its premier because users complained it startled them. The company's current clients include Barnes & Noble, New Balance and Toshiba Corp., among others.