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Interactive TV Ads: Real-Life Examples

  |  January 19, 2010   |  Comments

Brands have taken steps to combine interactive television with advertising, games, and even e-commerce. Second in a series.

My last column, "When TV and the Internet Converge," examined four points that marketers must understand about what's now happening with interactive television. In this column, let's review real-life examples of interactive television ads and explore where advertising will go from there.

Interactive Television Ads: Real-Life Examples

OK, let's look at some things that have been done that start to combine video and interactive TV with advertising, games, and even e-commerce.

Budweiser: Branding Game and Contest

Budweiser ran an interactive TV ad that rewarded "interactors" with a game and chance to win a trip to the World Cup. According to a case study examining this campaign, around 890,000 people interacted with the ad by "pressing red" or select and 90 percent of the interactors played the "Heads Up" game to win World Cup tickets. Interactors reportedly spent an average of just over seven minutes interacting, but 38 percent thought they'd spent 10 minutes or more interacting! See a video of the Budweiser interactive TV ad here on YouTube.

Axe Body Spray: Interactive Branding Game

For this interactive TV commercial, Axe created games where viewers controlled bikes and did a stunt using the arrow keys. Other options also brought up a slow-motion version of the stunt and information about Axe body spray. The ad was shown to 60 million homes that have either DirecTV or Dish Network. In just a few weeks, 3.5 million people watched the video and spent an average of five minutes playing with the ad.

Charmin: Coupon Distribution

This Charmin toilet paper interactive ad was delivered to TiVo users. When the ad appears, a green thumb appears in the right corner of the screen that reads, "Apply now for a valuable coupon from Charmin." When viewers click the thumb using their remote control, the program they are watching pauses and they are taken to a coupon request screen. Using the remote, they can choose that option and the coupons are sent by mail. The program resumes once the viewer completes the interactive ad. Although this ad was done via TiVo, it could be done with any cable system.

Domino's Pizza: Ordering Goods

OK, this was one of the first interactive TV promotions to really get some buzz. As described from the press release dated Nov. 17, 2008: "TiVo subscribers can seamlessly access their Domino's Pizza order from various advertising entry points on the TiVo user interface...by clicking on "Order Your Pizza"...they can log-in with a simple account number...build their pizza order right from the television set by selecting type of crust, toppings, and sauces, and get the pizza delivered by their local Domino's Pizza." This particular promotion was not e-commerce enabled, so you paid for your pizza when it arrived. But how hard would it be to add a pay feature now? Not too hard.

Clickable Video: Imagine Where This Can Go

Let's start to imagine where this can go. First, take a look at the images and videos below. They're examples of Web-based clickable video. Now, imagine that this Internet technology moves to television and the mouse-like remote control evolved to be a Wii-like remote control mouse where you can move a curser around a screen to play games and click on items in actual TV shows. Now, imagine watching your favorite shows and movies in catalog mode. Product placement will be huge and shows will generate click and commerce revenue from the highest bidders. It will be "The Truman Show" meets Google AdWords meets Amazon! There is no reason why this technology can't be applied to television now that the remote control, the Internet, and television video are fully merged and we can pause shows while people perform transactions. At the very least, we can tell people to click "OK" to see more info on a particular item. Then the DVR can pause the show and a consumer can view a pop-up Web page and make a transaction if she wants to. This could be done in millions of homes right now!

To see the below videos live, visit VideoClix, choose a category, and choose a video. When watching these videos, roll your curser over the products and click on them.

Vogue, 60 Seconds to Chic

This video includes links for consumers to obtain additional information and to make a purchase.

Progresso: Start Cooking

This is an example of a brand's informational video that could link to coupons.

Nike: Zappos Clickable Video Catalog

I couldn't find this on Zappos, but you can see it on YouTube here. I like this example because it integrates everything and shows where you could end up making a transaction at the end.

Bring It All Together, Mash It Up, Make a Wish List

So, here are a bunch of things I can imagine being done -- or are already being done -- with interactive TV. For the real-life examples, the items include links. What can you add to this list knowing what you know now?

  • Unrivaled behavioral, geographic, and demographic targeting
  • Unrivaled tracking
  • Voting and polling
  • Send an e-mail with more info
  • Send a coupon
  • Send a package by mail
  • Send a video
  • Call me
  • Text me
  • Find a store/location
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Order
  • Order and bill my credit card on file
  • Order and put it on my cable bill
  • Watch in catalog mode
  • Pause and click on a pop-up Web site or widget
  • Chat or a Twitter stream
  • Real-time social and wall posts
  • Multi-player/multi-viewer interaction
  • At home game show participation
  • Custom story lines and endings

In conclusion, the way to think about interactive TV is this: anything you can do on a Web site you will be able to do with interactive TV. Ads will become much more action oriented to encourage viewer/user behavior and shows will have new revenue opportunities with product placement and embedded calls to action (really saving them). Finally, tracking will be extended to television in a whole new way and will really raise the bar on marketing and advertising performance and accountability. So, what is the good news for online professionals? Online marketers already work under this kind of atmosphere!

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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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