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Ed, I enjoyed the article, and look forward to future installments. Rich media to me means rich experience. A decade ago I was involved in online advertising training. One of the clients was the Home Office and my first presentation to them showed banners from over 5 years earlier still. One example was the "Catch the monkey" animated GIF; another was a banner that appeared to shake, purporting to be able to sort out your computer system. Comically, over 15 years later, these "creative (ahem) concepts are still being used. Although you have to be on a pretty dire site to see that kind of ad, similar tactics can be seen in higher profile display across more mainstream media. You don't need to look far to see campaigns with deliberately small close buttons to inflate unintentional responses, or ambiguous messaging that won't deliver satisfaction once clicked. This may in many cases be termed rich media, but it isn't a rich experience.
The first campaign I worked on which was described at the time as rich media, was the launch of Sky Digital in 1999. It was a totally Flash-based campaign of multi-sized banner formats clicking through to an HTML-based interstitial. That's how the press coverage described it at the time, but in fact in today's terms it was neither rich media or an interstitial. Today we'd call it "some banners" and "a 1 page microsite". Probably a very bad one as well, although at the time it was cutting-edge (honest!!)
Rich media now is anything display-based that goes beyond a visual-only, click-through, display format. If it expands, shunts, pops, shouts, farts - it's rich media. I think that if the likes of Doubleclick and DG Mediamind (once Tangozebra and Eyeblaster!) have categorised a rich media format, and are selling it as a format, it should no longer be considered rich media. I'd like to see rich media once again used to describe non-standard, innovative, interactive formats. Flashtalking and the aforementioned still offer advertisers, through their agencies, the chance to do innovative stuff. Most of the "rich" formats out there were born of agencies' innovative ideas that then went mainstream.
To summarise, it all started with "new media". It's no longer new - far from it. Many agencies are dropping the word "digital"; everything is digital these days, making it an unfashionable term and causing a surge of agency dissociation. Likewise, let's put the "rich" back into rich media.
That's the wrinkliest brain-like kidney I've ever seen. I hope it wasn't an employee's kidney, being smuggled out under a cloak of batter, to provide some kind of extra income.
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