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IQ News: Schwinn Rides the Net Via ClickShot Creation

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Rich media startup ClickShot is set to launch an online advertising technology that its founder hopes will take words like "plug-ins" and "downloads" out of the interactive vocabulary.
Through a patent-pending technology called the Playmercial--Java applets that create interactive experiences on the Web--the Tustin Calif.-based company will see its first project reach the Web today, in the form of a virtual test drive of a mountain bike produced for Boulder, Colo.-based Schwinn Cycling & Fitness. The ad lets visitors to the Schwinn site ride a virtual bicycle over rough terrain, attempting to stay on the trail as they encounter obstacles such as a cow or a flying saucer.
Playmercials have tiny file sizes--the Schwinn applet typically takes 10 seconds to launch--despite their interactivity. To accommodate the majority of surfers, ClickShot does all testing on 28.8 modems.
"It's pretty immersive," said Schwinn senior vice president of marketing and product development Gregg Bagni of the company's Playmercial. "That's a marketing geek word, but it is immersive. Of course, it's not meant to [replace] an actual test ride, but at the same time anything we can do on our Web site to get them involved and stay longer, we're interested."
Playmercials can interface with advertisers' database and e-commerce applications, so that users can make purchases, request information or win a coupon from within the banner. For example, one ClickShot demo lets users drag topping items onto a virtual pizza, which could connect to a pizza retailer's online ordering system.
Concept, creative and development for the Schwinn project were handled in-house by the ClickShot team. The company's services are being marketed not only directly to advertisers, but to interactive agencies, and the company plans to later sell a toolkit.
"We keep publishers happy because click-throughs are not required," said ClickShot president Kiem Tjong. "The biggest asset for publishers is eyeballs, but the more successful a [banner] ad is, the more likely they are to lose eyeballs."
The mountain bike Playmercial will remain on the Schwinn site for at least four weeks. "People who want to buy a bike want to go out and have fun on it and this is a nice way to have fun online, so the two connect well," Bagni said.