A few weeks back, I was invited to speak on a panel to discuss the future of interactive television (iTV). Since it was being held on December 23 at a downtown New York hotel, I expected only a few people to show up. Who wants to attend an industry event two days before Christmas?
To my surprise, almost 100 people packed the room, and they were eager to hear about, and discuss, the opportunities within this new medium. It was exciting. Though iTV is still a fledgling industry, the enthusiasm in the room reminded me of the early days of the Web.
If you work in online advertising and don't know anything about iTV, it's time to do your homework. Although it is not clear when it will reach the critical mass that will attract serious advertising and marketing dollars, I am convinced it is not a question of if but when.
In fact, millions of television households today have some kind of interactive capabilities, ranging from VOD to home shopping. What's slowing development the most is the industry is highly fragmented, thus creating barriers to major investment by advertisers.
If this reminds you of online advertising before the advent of third-party ad servers and standard formats, you're right. In fact, there are many parallels between iTV and Web advertising.
Hopefully, the iTV industry won't make the same mistakes we did. As a new marketing medium, iTV should take to heart as it grows a few important lessons:
The iTV industry is schizophrenic, with some companies treating iTV as if it were just TV with interactivity and others treating it as if it were the Web with elements of television. It will take a while for people to realize it is actually a singular medium of its own.
The development of interactive television is confusing, and trying to understand its new opportunities may seem daunting. But the good news is if you have seen online advertising develop over the past five to eight years, you are as much as an expert on its future as anyone.
Now that's exciting.
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Jeffrey Graham is vice president of client development at Dynamic Logic, a company he joined in January of 2001. Dynamic Logic specializes in measuring the branding effectiveness of online marketing. Jeffrey has served as research director at two online advertising agencies, Blue Marble and NOVO, and has worked with clients such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble, and Continental Airlines. He has taught Internet Research at New York University and has a Masters degree in the subject.
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