Hewlett-Packard unleashes its next wave of ever-richer interactive ads for its color printers this week, with creative by Portland, Ore. shop White Horse Studios in partnership with San Francisco hotshop Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, HP's online media agency.
"We found that the typical banner ad click-through rate has dropped to half a percent-if you're lucky," said Julia Mee, corporate advertising consultant for Palo Alto-based HP. "On the flip side, when we do more innovative things on the Internet, whether sponsorships or rich media, the participation rates go way up."
Two different ads will demonstrate HP printers' color layering process. A self-closing "superstitial," using technology from Unicast, New York, offers television commercial-like animation of a bullfighter struggling with the wrong-colored cape, enhanced by flamenco guitar music.
(Interstitials are usually streaming while Unicast's superstitials are downloaded into the browser cache after a desired Web page appears. The ad plays on the next click.)
Banner ads, using Enliven technology from Home, Redwood City, Calif., let users move red and green dots around in an attempt to make an orange dot. They also let users print specs from the banner.
"The gif banners tend to get right to the message," said White Horse creative director and principal Jeanne McKirchy-Spencer, "while Enliven lets you have more entertainment value."
The ads will run for six months, the largest online buy HP has done, according to Jennifer Collins, account manager for HP interactive advertising, though she would not disclose how much will be spent.
White Horse landed the assignment through Collins. "HP is pretty decentralized," she explained, "so people within divisions are free to go to various vendors to develop creative, but come to us for media planning. One division had gone to White Horse and I thought they had done a very good job. The banners looked different to me than any banners I had seen."
The Enliven banners will run on sites including MSNBC, Pathfinder and Geo-Cities; the matador superstitial will run on Redwood City-based portal Excite.