Boston Symphony Launches Custom Web Commercials

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is using personalized TV-style commercials on the Internet in an effort to boost concert attendance.

Visitors are greeted by name in the spots, and hear a real human voice rather than one generated by a computer. They also hear customized messages based on variables in the orchestra’s database.

The technology, known as “intellimmercial,” was developed by three Chicago-area companies: AMN New Media, Anobi Technology Corp. and Eyetopia Design. The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) was the beta site.

BSO mailed letters in late October to 35,000 past ticket buyers. It invited them to visit a special Web address,, and provided them with a registration code.

The mailing drew a 5% response, as defined by the number of people visiting the site.

Sales figures are not yet available, according to Stephen Belth, president of AMN New Media. But Belth said the effort has “significantly impacted” concert attendance. In addition, he said, the response was “fast—within days.”

The basic 50-second spot has a musical background, and features the voice of Rich Capperala, who hosts a popular classical music radio program.

“The image comes on the screen, and shows Symphony Hall,” said Belth. “Then the announcer’s voice comes up, and says hello to the visitor by name.”

The messages were customized for first-time and long-term concert goers. They offered tickets for November and December concerts, and visitors were also offered a screen saver that they could download.

The flash-animated spots, which also showed pictures of the orchestra and images of composers, were designed by AMN’s Randal Huiskens.

As the database identifies the person’s first name, it locates an audio sound byte using that name, said Belth. The AMN database has 90% of all the first names in the United States, he added.

The technology is available for licensing for roughly $20,000 a year, not counting the cost of the commercial production.


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