Beanbag Webcasting, the seven-month old, Mumbai-based provider of rich media delivery solutions on the Web, has signed an exclusive agreement with Atlanta-based EyeWonder Inc for access to EYERIS streaming e-mail technology. It enables audio-visual ads to be streamed over even 28 kbps connections without the use of any downloads or plug-ins. An EYERIS-enabled e-mail, as light as 25k, starts playing an ad as soon as the recipient opens his mail. The ad is delivered as an applet in Java, a platform supported by about 90 per cent of PCs.
The technology holds the potential to give a fillip to the Rs 30-crore Indian online advertising industry by moving it beyond those painful banner ads. "At the heart of the dot-com bust is the beleaguered banner ad," writes Katherine Hobson in US News (March 12). Sure, there have been some innovations to better catch surfer interest. The gaming ads are one. Webmercials, animated files in Flash compressed to sizes of 15K, is another novelty initiated by Webdunia.com, the Indian-languages Internet company. These run for a few seconds and comprise words and characters.
Webdunia launched the first of the webmercials over two months back on its site as WebduniaTV. It claims to have interested a few advertisers like ICICI Direct, Close-up and Kingfisher to try the new formats. "We have successfully delivered registrations from 141 cities to ICICI in a period of two weeks with webmercials," claims Anu Babber, vice-president, ad-sales, Webdunia.com.
Changes have been announced in banner-ad formats too, from time to time, seven of them last month, by the Internet Advertising Bureau in the US, informs Hobson. Yet, advertiser interest in online media, both in India and globally, has remained low. Ads using technology from companies like EyeWonder and Bluestreak add a richer dimension, thus promising to attract more attention. "People everywhere are used to exciting advertising as seen on television," says Pawan Bhandari, chief marketing officer, Beanbag. "EYERIS ads replicate that excitement on the Net."
CNN was among the first high-profile sites to adopt the EyeWonder technology, which is now being used also by Fox, Intel and Volvo. Beanbag, which has secured the exclusive right to use it in India, intends to launch a mass-contact programme to begin with to raise awareness levels. "We will be sending 1,000-plus mass mailers in the next few days to advertising agencies and marketers, dot-coms active in this field and big advertising spenders, to generate awareness," says Bhandari.
As he sees it, marketers can now send "richer e-mails". "It will help them precisely target their messages with the added advantage of audio-visual impact," he remarks. Considering its compression and thus, easy reception over narrow bandwidth, it scores high over video mail too.
Beanbag, which is promoted by Farhan Thakur and Madan Bahl who runs the Rs 80-crore Adfactors group comprising iMandi Asia, chlorophyll, Adfactors PR and indiastat, has been webcasting events (like Convergence India 2001, held in New Delhi last month) and selling them as advertising and communication options to marketers. It has worked with Credit-Suisse First Boston (CSFB), ICICI, Tata Sons, PricewaterhouseCoopers, C-DAC and ABN-Amro, among others. The streaming e-mail technology, suggests Bhandari, is the first in its steps toward a more involved partnership with EyeWonder. "At a later stage, we may also look at joint technology development," he says.
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