Several months ago you saw all over the Web that animated characters were the rage. Supposedly, according to the animated site owners, animated characters were said to increase sales. Here’s an example www.SitePal.com.
Personally I found these characters which typically start talking right when the page loads annoying and I simply cannot react quickly enough to turn them off. They appear cartoonish and do not give the professional polished look that I think is best for professional websites.
Video is the rage now and there are options if you want to include interaction on your page, but stay away from animated characters unless you are catering to a younger set that may consider avatars such as these animated talking heads cool.