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With larger numbers of digital video recorder users zapping through TV commercials, advertisers are scrambling for ways to get their message across.

"They basically have two options - use alternate media and offer more compelling imagery on TV," said Peter Koeppel, head of the Dallas-based agency Koeppel Direct.

His advice? Zap the zappers with memorable messages.

"Clever imagery and humor are the best ways to get that all-important top of mind," said Anne White, marketing director for New York Festivals, which sponsors leading ad competitions worldwide.

White and Koeppel offer these tips for putting your media reach in fast forward:

Create video billboards. Counter DVR technology "with a billboard-type look in TV spots," Koeppel advised. "When businesses and agencies create an ad, they need to keep in mind that if someone's going through this in four seconds, there needs to be some visual components that will make it memorable."

The approach would dovetail with TiVo's planned pop-up-like ads, to be introduced next year. When viewers fast forward through an ad using TiVo, static images such as logos will appear on screen, offering giveaways and links to other ads. "Advertisers should underscore the pop-ups with imagery and frequent logo placement in the ads themselves," Koeppel said.

Target product placement. Reality shows from "The Apprentice" to "Blow-Out" routinely blend products with programming content. On "Fear Factor," for example, advertisers such as NetZero sponsor timed events. The sponsor's logo is attached to the timer in the lower left corner of the screen.

Merging ads with content will likely spread into other program forms, Koeppel and White agree. Their advice: Find new ways to make the medium your message.

Go captive. Run commercials during movie theaters' coming attractions. "These tend to be more dramatic, high-production-value commercials, almost like a minimovie," Koeppel said.

"They have to be a cut above," White said, "or you'll have viewers throwing popcorn at the screen."

Punch up Web advertising. Banner ads are so ubiquitous that people tune them out. Grab Web surfers by telling a compelling story in a few seconds, Koeppel suggests. Techniques range from multiple images to streaming videos.

"Configure banner ads so users' cursors prompt dramatic changes in music and imagery," White said. "Also, take a tip from American Express, which offers interactive versions of popular spots with celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld. Longer-form and interactive Web tie-ins are popular with young audiences."

Web tie-ins are also useful for products that need to be demonstrated, Koeppel says.

Compete with programming. "A prime example is iPod, which is doing commercials that look like music videos," he said.

Face facts. "No matter who the audience is, you're going to have to make ads more creative, more image-focused and more compelling - especially as DVR penetration continues to grow," Koeppel said.

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