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Web blurbs in boom

Unicast's format boosts movie campaigns

NEW YORK — With much of the marketing success of “The Blair Witch Project” attributed to its use of the Internet, movie studios are now more than ever looking for effective ways to utilize the Web.

Majors such as Universal (“The Mummy”) and New Line (“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”) have found success promoting their films over the Internet through an advertising format developed by Unicast.

Rather than using the traditional banner ads that appear at the top of a Web page, Unicast’s Superstitial advertising format takes up most of the page with a media-rich promo for a particular film.

Unicast’s Web ads are large and contain music and sometimes dialogue from the film, and studio marketers report that the company’s Superstitial ads have met with great success, especially compared with plain banner ads.

“What’s really appealing is that it gives you a larger screen that’s closer to a broadcast ad,” said Gordon Paddison, director of interactive marketing for New Line Cinema. “You can deliver a fairly robust message that’s a heck of a lot better than a banner.”

While the large-size Superstitial ads might annoy some Web users, if the user does not show interest in the movie spot by clicking on it for further information, the ad disappears in a few seconds.

“We know it’s more intrusive, but we think we’re being mindful of the user’s experience,” said Allie Shaw, VP of marketing for the New York-based Unicast.

Shaw said that only 0.5% of Web users click on banner ads for more information. In contrast, according to Unicast, its Superstitial ads have garnered a 15%-22% click-though rate for film ads.

Anthy Price, senior VP of media for Universal Pictures Marketing, said that banner ads for Universal Pictures have averaged a 1%-5% click-though rate. In comparison, Unicast’s ads have generated a 15%-35% click-through rate.

“There is an actual involvement with this product,” Price said. “You don’t want something that takes too much time and irritates people. The response to this has been far and away positive.”

Price said that Universal plans to use Unicast’s technology to promote its upcoming films “End of Days” and “Man on the Moon,” among others.

Advertisers that use Unicast’s Superstitial ads typically pay $5 per thousand users, on top of the $10-$30 CPM price that most Web ads cost.

Unicast’s ads appear on popular Web sites such as CBS Sportsline and E! Online.