StarMedia goes beyond banners, hatches @dPod

In an effort to shore up new advertising revenue in a low-tide market, Spanish and Portuguese-language Internet portal StarMedia Network Inc. announced this week that it is offering advertisers a new technology that promises to increase click-through rates by making ads more interactive, and less invasive, to users.

The technology, dubbed @dPod, allows users to read about, browse through and interact with products without leaving the StarMedia site they are on. @dPod goes beyond traditional banner ads, the company said, to offer streaming audio and video, flash animation, contests and purchase opportunities.

An ad for a movie, for example, could include links to a video clip, a ticket contest or facts about the actors that appear within the ad’s borders when users click on the links, so that they still remain on the Web site where the ad is located.

StarMedia’s use of the technology could serve as an attractive advertising lure in a slumping ad market. Toyota Motor Corp. has already signed up to use @dPod for an upcoming campaign targeting the U.S. Hispanic market, a StarMedia representative said.

The Internet company bought the exclusive technology from its creator ePod Corp., after seeing it successfully implemented in some U.S. ad campaigns.

In addition to offering a compelling advertising tool, the technology could also point to a new form of Internet advertising that makes the experience more engaging and interactive for users.

While it remains to be seen how StarMedia’s audience will react to the ads, a warm reception could give the Internet portal a much-needed lift. While the company managed to narrow its losses in its second fiscal quarter of this year, it still hasn’t reached the wide market that analysts had hoped it would penetrate when it was launched five years ago.

The company’s stock (STRM) rallied up 5.26 per cent to US$0.20 in early morning trading Friday.

StarMedia, in New York City, can be reached at