If you go through Grand Central Terminal in New York and many other major transportation hubs you're likely to encounter the new immersive style of ad campaigns gaining popularity, with huge stick-on panels for one product following one after the other on walls, floors and any other surface that will get your attention. Grab the shuttle subway train to Times Square and you're likely to wind up in a car that's a head-to-toe ad for rum, athletic shoes or whatever other consumer experience that someone wants you to deep-fry in for a few moments. It appears as if such methods are making their way onto the Web as well, now.
Jason Calacanis Twittered about a new site called break.com, a new site specializing in little video clips, photos, games and such for those seeking some well-packaged time wasters and potential big bucks - up to USD 2K if your uploaded content makes it to their home page . Digg meets YouTube, if you will. The site itself is amusing enough, well-designed and sure to gain some attention, but the interesting thing that I found about it was that it has an ad for an upcoming movie wrapping itself entirely around the main content area on the site's home page. Immersive ads have made their way to the Web - courtesy of the high-res screens that are the typical norm now for most Web consumers. View the page in a smaller display and the sides clip off neatly, making for a big banner ad with a little noise on the side.
As much as this is about making more of an immersive experience online I think that it's also acknowledging another immersive medium that's beginning to get the attention of consumers: HDTV. Before we got our new hi-def set I rarely focused on the TV itself unless it was breaking news or a key sporting event. With HDTV, the quality of the picture is so much closer to the visual quality of the typical PC monitor that you actually wind up watching shows again - and sometimes the ads that go with them. The Break.com all-screen ad makes use of all of the screen real estate to get a message across, a large-scale distraction on a page that's all about distractions. Oddly enough, then, it fits right in - and helps to get through to consumers equipped with both HDTV and TiVo-like devices. I suspect that we'll probably see some back-channeling of this technique into HDTV channels as advertisers begin to realize that some shows have blank screen margins that can be exploited more effectively for their campaigns. Myself, I'd rather see Web content of my own selection in that space, but that's for another post.