Buzz Words Demystified! Episode 3: RIA

Chris HolmokIn previous buzz word posts I covered how Web 2.0 and AJAX are making the Web a more interactive and engaging experience. But, to be honest, plain-old HTML and JavaScript do have some limitations. Web browsers don't comply with standards so it's difficult to make a website look the same in every browser. Also, these "native Web applications" have no support for things like video and audio.

Then, in the 1990’s, two Web technologies emerged: Java (with applets now JavaFX) from Sun Microsystems, and Flash from Macromedia (now a part of Adobe). The folks at Macromedia coined the term “Rich Internet Application” (or RIA) to address the fact that the Web had its limitations and they were offering richer, more sophisticated solutions with Flash. More recently Microsoft has stepped into the fray with its Silverlight product.

These new technologies allowed video, audio, and almost limitless interface design to be served from the Web in anybody’s browser. All they need is a plug-in (and around 98% of all browsers have Flash installed). These new Rich Internet Applications can range from simply serving up video on YouTube, playing music on MySpace, or they can completely encompass the entire experience like the dance music portal Beatport.

So, how does this affect the work of direct digital marketing? There are two main aspects to look at here. First, plain and simple ads on a page just don’t cut it. Web ads now have embedded videos and even simple little games to grab a user’s attention. The second aspect to consider is Web page ads are no longer the only venue on the Web to do your marketing. Video sites (like Hulu and YouTube) are airing commercials and embedding ads in the videos themselves. MySpace offers sponsorship for their music player, allowing companies (like McDonalds) to skin the player with their brand.

With RIA online marketing is no longer limited by technology. So with that hurdle gone, what’s next?

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