As one who aims to keep pushing the tech and creative frontier ever further ahead of the competition-and who already looks back on the great success of the Pong banner as a model of yesteryear (“The ad banner. What a waste,” he sniffs. “It’s antiquated even before we started using it.”), Smith sees branding moving beyond Netscape and Microsoft browsers altogether. Before long, if Smith sells some of his latest prototype models, online branding will happen right on the desktop-via Net-linked modules that can provide users with both a valuable corporate service and a constant brand presence whenever they’re using a PC.

As part of a company project called “Flying Objects,” Red Sky unveiled a desktop software module this spring called the Millennium Clock (see “Desktop Branding,” this page). A product that he hopes might spearhead a new corporate advertising model, it’s a time and date counter, linked via the Net to an atomic clock site. Click, and you get a by-the-second countdown to 2000. It sits on the desktop, independent of your browser, and has “your logo here” seemingly written all over it.

Consider what Internet Advertising Bureau Chairman LeFurgy sees as the far-sighted possibilities: “If I’m Citibank, I might want a desktop product that could calculate my mortgage, or check my balance that day without having to dial up and go to my banking site. (See Debate, Oct. ’98, p125.) Desktop ad products are the future. Or put it this way-if you can get your brand in the goalposts of the desktop, you’ve scored.”

Maybe so, Smith agrees. But he warns against the race to convention. “We shouldn’t be locking down models down yet,” he says. “It’s blue-sky time.”

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