The Internet has always been home to weird and wonderful, but in past few weeks I've discovered some strange new phenomena that left me slightly perplexed.
Going online a couple of weeks ago I came across an animated mouse on a motorbike speeding across webpage I was visiting. At first I tried to take no notice of it because I've come across stranger stuff on Net before. However, as I scrolled down page, mouse followed me until I got bored of its presence and escaped to another website.
As I was later to find out, my monitor was not possessed and neither had website been defaced by fiendish hackers. The rodent on wheels was merely a new type of online ad informing me that a telecom operator in Ireland had launched a new high-speed Internet service that would make it quicker to surf Net.
This wasn't first time I had come across such an ad. A second website I visited seemed to disappear from view, only to be replaced by an animated motor car saving planet earth from alien attack, while yet another site bombarded me with moving image of a new mobile phone that prevented me from viewing page properly.
Welcome to world of rich media ads, a relatively new online advertising format which features video or animation that float or walk across web pages as you surf.
If you've not come across such a format yet, then be warned, you will do soon. New research from Nielsen-Netratings indicates that advertisers are wising up to fact that Internet users dislike traditional forms of online advertising such as banners and pop-up ads and so are coming up with new formats to tempt us into clicking through.
Nielsen-Netratings latest report reveals that traditional companies such as General Motors and Procter & Gamble are increasingly turning to rich media online ads because they're seen to cut through clutter of general online advertising, and result in more selective placements for advertising. In fact, nine out of top ten rich media advertisers in US in Q1, 2002 were traditional companies, rather than dotcoms, according to Nielsen-Netratings.
Unlike formats such as pop-up or pop-under ads which deluge poor Internet user with a thousand and one links to sites they don't want to visit, rich media ads seek to hide fact that they're trying to sell you something by dazzling consumer with smartly designed concepts and groovy looking graphics.