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     The potential of avatars for online advertising

    Computer Professional NewsThe potential of avatars for online advertising
    By: Simone Puterman

    Popular Mechanics, which bills itself as the voice of science and technology in South Africa, has introduced more features on its new website, including avatars - animated characters. According to publisher Alan Duggan, avatars "have potential for online advertising because they offer a triple whammy: animated figure, voice message and branded background". The avatars - first an attractive young woman, followed by a stern Uncle Sam (a light-hearted reference to his original call to arms) - welcome visitors to www.popularmechanics.co.za and remind them to buy the July issue.

    Duggan told Bizcommunity.com that he intends to change avatars often, to prevent visitors become bored with the message: "In future, I may use them to draw attention to online competitions or especially important articles in the magazine.

    "New technology allows us to play with a variety of characters, tweaking their background, faces, hairstyles, voices, clothes - even their age. We've used text-to-voice coding to create the first sample, so the speech is not quite perfect, but we're quite capable of linking the characters to real voices. The possibilities are endless, and we have every intention of exploiting them."

    Also added to the site is a compressed version of the magazine's television commercial, which features a patient in intensive care - presumably a Popular Mechanics reader - who allows his curiosity to get the better of him.

    Read: The potential of avatars for online advertising

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