Magazine article Insight on the News

`Rich Media' Mixes News, Ads and Entertainment

Magazine article Insight on the News

`Rich Media' Mixes News, Ads and Entertainment

Article excerpt

The Internet, Web TV and other forms of interactive media have created a new creature -- the `vuser' -- who watches programming while shopping, playing games, researching ...

Rich media" a seamless blend of entertainment and commercialism delivered with speed and sophistication, is the hot spot where new sensibilities and old standbys collide. "The Internet has opened the door for multiple media types to be layered and delivered together to just about any device, any time" notes Rob Martin, who coined the phrase in a report for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., an investment group. The stage is set "for the next evolution of content, involving not just one type of media, but all types combined into one" -- a mixture of electronic commerce, advertising, entertainment, news, consumer information and interactive technology.

"Imagine watching a live baseball game on your computer monitor," Martin explains. "You click an icon that delivers historical archives on the team, or statistics. Another icon lets you buy tickets, another flashes an ad customized to your particular consumer interest."

Martin also cites the movie Mission: Impossible II as a good example. To promote the film, producers released its preview online and "buried it in an immersive virtual gaming environment" -- all the while recovering ZIP codes and e-mail messages by charming users with a feature called Agent Registration. "These types of experiences will become the standard as savvy marketers realize the potential of appealing to people under the guise of useful information and entertainment" asserts Martin. Those people have a new name -- the "vuser," or viewer-user -- a term trademarked by one online company and bought up by another within months.

Meanwhile, Martin predicts rich media will generate $8 billion in revenues for advertisers, with bidding wars over "good proprietary rich media content." Still, there could be trouble ahead for the hapless consumer. "We believe promotions will be so severely interwoven into rich media that `vusers' will not know the difference between an advertisement and actual content," writes Martin in the report.

That's a hair-raising thought, perhaps, but Martin isn't too concerned -- slick, interactive delivery systems will prevent consumers from getting too passive. "Rich media is great for advertisers," he enthuses. "This is entertainment and information. Maybe it's more blatant, but I don't see the harm in it. The use of subliminal or intrusive advertising has gone on for decades."

But for every action, there is a reaction, even in the Internet universe, which often lacks protocol. …

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