LONDON/NEW YORK: Rich media offers marketers a wealth of possibilities for engaging with their audiences in new and creative ways, with publishers and media agencies playing an important role in disseminating innovative formats, according to a leading industry figure.

In a WARC Best Practice Paper, How to run an effective rich media campaign and an accompanying overview (The state of rich media) of this ad format, Jaime Enrico Singson, Director/Product Marketing at Sizmek, outlines how it is constantly changing, driven by developments in the format itself as well as the requirements of different channels.

Rich media incorporates high-resolution imagery, animation, expansion, sound, video, interactivity and other elements to persuade audiences to interact and engage with the ad's content.

"Rich media often allows users multiple paths to engage with the brand," Singson says.

The market has evolved rapidly from early in-banner ads to embrace expandable formats, interstitials and, what is now the fastest-growing format, out-stream ads.

These are typically auto-play videos that appear in between the paragraphs of a publisher with a lot of text content – "and possibly not enough video content", Singson notes.

He adds that out-stream executions allow publishers who have traditionally not participated in these video markets (their inventory has mostly been limited to display) to do so.

That makes them important players in the rich media ecosystem, as many experiment with new types of ad products to capture audience attention and drive performance.

The downside of that, however, is that such products may not be covered by IAB standards. "It's a constant balancing act that yields a wealth of innovation in formats," says Singson.

Media agencies, too, are keen to try out innovative formats if they will bring about a lift in engagement, clickthroughs or conversion.

He further notes that "big media agencies can get publishers to adopt new formats because they represent the demand of big advertisers and can guarantee to bring in demand".

But whatever the format used, all stakeholders — media agency, creative agency and advertiser — need to be aligned on the creative and marketing goals, Singson stresses.

It is also useful to work with the chosen rich media creative technology provider to assess which creative formats will help drive those goals. And, he adds, "many creative agencies don't often make use of all the storytelling tools they have on hand".

Finally, when it comes to measurement, "look at overall unique interaction rates for rich media, not just clickthrough", Singson advises.

Data sourced from WARC