Anne Holland

Surround Sessions Online Advertising

October 30th, 2001

SherpaBlog reader, Mark Smith-Windsor, CEO Rapid I Media, writes, “The Microsoft ad on c-net was a little annoying, but I have to say it is definitely the future of banner advertising. Although its novelty will wear off by yesterday, It is the only platform that says ‘hey look at me.’ It affects 1 more of my senses than most banner ads do. I saw it and heard it, where as most banner ads just stink. It is the first example I have seen of a really great format for internet advertising, Although I am still not upgrading to XP.”

And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… yet another new online ad format is coming our way. Christine Mohan Sr Mgr PR for New York Times Digital wrote in to tell me about the hot new idea they are pitching to media buyers right now, “‘Surround sessions’ are a series of ads that follow a user through his/her session, showing a succession of ads with a linear story line as the user clicks through pages on The concept is closer to the broadcast model of reach and frequency…”

While I don’t think “surround sessions” will change the face of online ads as we know them, I’ll bet a few folks test them out (probably including Windows XP which is pretty much throwing money at anything that moves right now — bless its heart in this recession!) This idea reminds me of when broadcasters touted ultra-short 15 second ads as the hot new idea for TV ads to use as brackets following viewers from the beginning to the end of a commercial break. They’re still occasionally used for headache medicine or other pharmaceuticals. (The actor takes the pill, and then a few minutes later they are all better.)

However, amongst all these new ad formats, I must say that I miss the big excitement that was whipped up for a bit about 18 months ago about contextual advertising. Frankly I’d rather plant a highly-readable text ad right in the midst of content directly relating to my product, than have dancing and singing graphics show up anywhere else. But then I’m old fashioned that way.

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