Page last updated at 23:00 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 00:00 UK

What makes a great online ad?

By Simon Atkinson
Business reporter, BBC News

The amount of money spent on online advertising in the UK has overtaken that for television for the first time, a study suggests. But what makes a good advertising campaign for the online world?

From banner adverts and viral e-mails to micro-websites, some industry figures chose their favourites.


Shot from BK advert

Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Concept: The chain describes seeking out "Whopper Virgins" - farmers in rural Romania, Thai villagers and residents of Greenland who have not been exposed to fast food - to compare its signature burger with the Big Mac by arch-rival McDonalds in a taste test. The results are filmed and shown on a website.

Dave Bedwood, creative partner at Lean Mean Fighting Machine, says: You shouldn't have to think too hard to remember an advert and this one sticks out. It's one of those that I was a bit jealous we didn't think of it. It was controversial and a lot of people didn't like it, they questioned the ethics of it. But I thought it was great. It tells a story, like a mini-documentary. A lot of people in this industry get caught up in using the latest technology for their campaigns rather than what is being said.


John West Salmon advert

Agency: Leo Burnett

Concept: A John West worker fights a grizzly bear after trying to take a salmon the animal has fished from a river. The bear fights back with some kung fu. Became one of the most famous viral ad campaigns - hitting hundreds of thousands of e-mail inboxes and pushing salmon sales up 23%.

Flo Heiss, creative partner at Dare Digital, says: This came along before YouTube was on the scene, so the film had to be small enough to be e-mailed around. It was simple, but just really, really funny. It is getting more difficult to create something that people will pass on. It needs to be more than just amusing. It has to have something else.


Yoobot shot

Agency: Grey London

Concept: Uses an interactive game, to help children think more about the physical activity they are doing and food they are eating. Youngsters encouraged to consider the long term consequences of their current food and activity choices - by offering them a chance to experiment with their future.

Rory Sutherland, chairman of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, says: "It's a beautiful idea. Paid media were used to launch and amplify the idea, but the game allowed children to absorb a whole series of lessons in an interactive and memorable way. It allows for a depth and duration of engagement which would be impossible and unaffordable in traditional advertising media.



Agency: R/GA

Concept: Uses a piece of technology to promote the brand. A gadget attached to or embedded in a shoe records distance and pace of running. Connected to an iPod, this can be be uploaded to the Nike+ website for analysis. Runners can set goals, compare routes, encourage one another or arrange to meet up for a jog. There is, of course, plenty of Nike swoosh branding, just in case you might need a new pair of trainers or shorts any time soon.

Justin Pearse, editor of New Media Age, says: "It is advertising as utility - something useful for the customer. It demonstrates the evolution of interactive marketing and a good example of an advert not interrupting someone's experience, but adding to it."


Pringle banner add

Agency: Bridge Worldwide

Concept: A banner advert - except that, when you click it, it does not take you to a website. Instead, every click brings a new line of text, taking the user deeper into a story (which has little to do with snacks) without ever leaving the ad. Won a Cyber Lion award at Cannes.

Buster Dover, head of digital at VCCP, says: It runs against the consumer expectations of the banner advert, and that surprise is what leads to the engagement. Banners are at the lowest end of the online advertising arena, so persuading someone to engage with one for any length of time is a feat. It is so good that it went viral. Creating a banner which people send to their friends - while all the time featuring the product - now that's impressive.

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