Developing the world’s first interactive Silverlight banner: Metia’s perspective

EA_Banner_1_thumbJanuary 2010 saw the launch the new Mass Effect 2 game, and EA Games in the UK wanted to mirror the game innovation with their digital marketing.

Developing the world’s first interactive Silverlight banner to be ad-served on the MSN platform was an ideal way to meet this objective.

Microsoft Advertising and Mediacom, in partnership with digital agency Metia, accepted the challenge and embarked on the quest to find an ad-serving partner. Although all ad serving companies claimed to have the ability to serve Silverlight banners, it quickly became apparent that none could do this with interactive and expandable units. Suddenly the brief got more complicated, which was made easier when Metia found partner Ad: Dynamo and provided them support to enhance their ad-serving capabilities.

So all parties were ready to focus on the solution. EA Games collated as many assets as possible to help drive the creative process as the end result had to be engaging and interactive creating the ultimate experience for a rich-media hungry audience. The key metric was engagement and everyone was keen to steer clear of a direct comparison of Silverlight vs. Flash. Therefore Metia used Silverlight’s key features and benefits to maximum effect and focused on its Deep Zoom and Smooth Streaming capabilities.

The great thing with the gaming industry is that buckets of content are developed by the studios to support the game launch, which is why it was a perfect product to showcase these features. Once traditional scamps and wireframes were created, a non-functioning version of the banner was developed, using Blend 3.

When this was in place, it was time to split the development and interactive design tasks. The project was set up in Visual Studio 2008 and project version control was defined using Team Foundation Server. This allowed the Developers to create a fully functioning version of the user interface, while simultaneously the Interactive Designers could work on the media, design and copy using Blend 3, Deep Zoom Composer and Encoder 3. Adopting this process and software meant that the core development (including ad-serving enhancements) and interactive design was completed in just a few weeks.

EA_Banner_2_thumbWhen you look at the visually stunning results, it’s hard to imagine the work was done in this timeframe. And the best part is that due to the content being driven by XML and the reusable nature of the UI components in Blend 3, this can easily be re-skinned in a fraction of this time.

With brands now questioning the role of the microsite, perhaps this is a suitable new approach to take?

While the ad is running you can check it out here.

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