Widgetizing Polls to Engage Online Shoppers

I just got off the phone with Pasadena, California-based Interpolls. The company has a number of rich media ad products and national brand ad clients, including HP, Scion and T-Mobile (full list here).

The company’s newest ad format is a widget-like product that brings polls into the mix. This places polls within banner ads to generate and qualify traffic for its advertisers. Though this polling data can be valuable for marketers, the functionality is used more to engage online shoppers.

Users are given the overall poll results after they vote on something related to a product (i.e., What is your cat’s favorite thing to do? A. eat B. sleep C. play). So it’s supposed to be a fun thing to do for users, who can see how their answer stacks up to overall results. This is also a way for advertisers to generate traffic and qualified leads of people who engaged with their ad.

More importantly, users are sometimes sent coupons or other calls to action. Voting on computing-based questions within an HP ad, for example, will target various product listings in a separate window that comes with a link to a Web site as well as “add to cart” functionality.

For lots of Interpolls’ target verticals, including consumer electronics, movie tickets and autos, there is a clear opportunity to combine this impression-based advertising with local directional advertising and to bring qualified users further down the purchase funnel. In the case of client Scion, this includes a dealer locater, according to Interpolls President Peter Kim, and there are many other possibilities.

Kim also points out that ad serving widgets across content networks is generally difficult because those widgets are seen as “fourth party” content that is generally not approved. This often requires partnering with an approved ad serving provider. Interpolls is already approved across a vast publisher network and is essentially integrating this polling functionality to its existing distributed client ads.

The company’s ads are also HTML-based unlike the majority of display ads, which are in flash. HTML, according to Kim, offers a lot more flexibility for switching poll questions and seasonal offers than flash does. The local implications will become clearer as Kim and company continue to develop the widget strategy and bring in more advertising clients in the verticals where products are mostly bought and sold offline.

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