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The pace of innovation on the World Wide Web is dizzyingly fast. It seems only a moment ago that those letterbox-shaped banner advertisements began to appear on Web pages. We had just learnt to ignore them when advertisers, recognising our growing immunity, began to animate them. Now that novelty is beginning to pall, they’ve come up with another wheeze to force themselves on our attention: the intermercial. In origin, the word seems to be a blend of interactive and commercial, after the model of infomercial.

Intermercials consist of short video sequences which are presented to you between Web pages and which fill that blank interval while you are waiting for the next page to arrive. One problem with the idea is bandwidth, since downloading a video sequence on a dial-up system takes time, and so costs the user money, though clever compression techniques may make it possible to limit file sizes to 10K-20K. As they also require browser add-ins, many users will be unable to view them unless advertisers can persuade them to download the software. But, in the view of columnist Douglas Rushkoff, the biggest obstacle may be customer resistance, Web users being a notoriously impatient lot. Web site operators may also come to feel that it is unhelpful to employ a technique which tends to delay users accessing what they have to offer.

Page created 20 Sep. 1997

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 20 September 1997.