Transactional Banners And Distributed Commerce
I've been on a mission since the first issue of Website Magazine - bringing back the banner (article from 2005). So who, in 2007, is making banners and display advertising a more efficient model for marketing products and services? There are hundreds of providers in the age of the widget, but one new company worthy of note is UK-based Tailgate and their "transactional banner" offering.
Tailgate works like this: users purchase items directly through the banner, via interactive flash, as opposed to simply clicking through to another page (you can see a demo on their home page). Tailgate suggests that the benefit for publishers (those displaying the ads) is that users are kept on their site. Sounds positive, but but I'm not yet a believer in that perspective.
The real value is in its novelty - offerings like this will generate a fair amount attention in the short term from e-commerce providers looking to expand reach, and from publishers seeking ways to get away from contextual offerings. But in a space where video advertising is just over the horizon and behavioral marketing and personalization is already here, interactive flash (whether e-commerce enabled or not) just won't be a game changer. Being an affiliate or publisher means that people will leave your site - it's just something you have to get used to.
Up to this point there has been no viable affiliate/publisher solution that can facilitate the delivery of e-commerce transactions and, for now, it seems like it will stay that way. Why? The concept of distributed e-commerce has several hurdles to overcome - consumer confidence being the primary challenge. The problem with transactional banners is that most consumers do research before purchasing - they read reviews and compare prices. You are not going to buy Oakley sunglasses, Bolle Nova ski masks or Burton Gloves when you're planning a vacation on a site about skiing unless you have access to all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision.