Ghost Ads of Yahoo
I was rummaging around inside Yahoo a while back and found a bunch of very early GIF89A ad banners. GIF89A, of course, was the magic technology that was discovered in 1996-97. Within a very short time, animation-fever gripped the cube farms of Web designers across the land. Sadly, few examples survive today, which makes the Yahoo Find significant. These ads are not cached copies - they actually still exist on Yahoo, although it is improbable that they're linked from any active areas of the site. These ads, therefore, may be among the oldest commercial digital objects still doing what they were designed to do - sell products (even if these products were "overtaken by events").
Independent: On the Edge: Are You? (Web Innovation 1997 trade show)
This nearly ten-year old ad for a long-forgotten technology conference dates itself authoritatively in early 1997. It is significant in terms of perserving one of the major intellectual conceits of the dot-com era ("Independent: On the Edge"). Note that the copy provides not a "Front Door to the Future", but a "Frontdoor" - a textual consolidation possibly forced by the spatial limitations of the 468 x 60 canvas. Like virtually all of these early ads, it has no way of turning itself off.
IBM "Revolving Door" (World Avenue)
"When you're done browsing here - Shop at IBM's World Avenue", this looping ad announces, but not the differences. Neither IBM's holy "eight bar" logo nor any of the Times Roman text is animated - doing this would have clearly outraged whichever Interactive Design Subcommittee oversaw this ad's production. IBM's "World Avenue" was closed in late 1997. According to the Wall Street Journal, "when it came to shoppers, World Avenue was more like a deserted street, producing minimal revenue not only for mall tenants like department-store chain Gottschalks Inc., but also for IBM, which had planned to make money by taking a cut of every World Avenue transaction." IBM's choice of the endlessly looping "revolving door" may seem an ironic one, given how many former managers of this company have now passed through it.
Get Quenched: Sunny Delight
The early adopters of GIF89A animation might have been technology firms, but it wasn't very long before big consumer brands sought to upgrade their static banner ads with animation, often in connection with the promotion of an online contest or game."Get Quenched" is obviously an early effort whose unimaginative use of the animation medium seems tangibly primitive today. Sunny Delight - the drink, still exists, although it is inconceivable that the "Get Quenched" game is still in existence on the Web.
If you find an old banner ad out on the Web somewhere, please tell me about it. Early examples of these loopy, looping animations are very hard to find these days in the ever-deleting, snake-eats-tale bitstream.