What is rich media? Let's do a quick review of the history of banner ads on the Web. First, we had basic, flat graphic banners using either a GIF or JPEG image file format, which essentially meant they were static.

Soon technological developments in graphic software brought us simple animated GIFs, little repetitive (read: annoying) blinking, waving, spinning objects vying for attention.

Then someone got the clever idea of making those narrow banner ads interactive and thoroughly rich with multimedia features, hence the term "rich media."

Rich media can mean banners where you can actually fill out a form and submit your information from the banner to the advertiser's site or an interactive quiz where each time you submit an answer, another question appears. Or it might mean a car racing down a scenic highway with full video and sound.

Rich media uses interactive technologies such as Java, Flash or Enliven. Keep in mind that if you turbo-charge, not everyone has the right computer setup to appreciate it.

Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books). She is currently working on her next book and new company.