iTV Case Study: The View

It’s been nearly ten years since the advent of interactive television. Things are finally starting to look up. Recently, I worked on a case study about interactive TV advertising. I’ll share some of the highlights here to illustrate a point: this is not your mother’s 30-second spot.

First, some background. iTV advertising revenue will grow from $25 million in 2003 to $2.3 billion in 2007. Ad revenue will represent $39 per iTV household in 2007 — about six percent of total TV ad revenue per TV household. Participation by brand advertisers is starting to gain momentum as ad spend on emerging platforms makes its way back into the mix.

The case study involved Johnson & Johnson’s Media Futures Group, which, along with Universal McCann and ABC’s Enhanced TV Group, developed and deployed an interactive advertising strategy across three platforms: PC synchronized (Web content designed to go along with the TV programming); Wink-enabled set-top box (STB); and short message service (SMS), for 15 brands during a prime-time special of The View: His/Her Body Test. Pre-broadcast promotions included a press release, promotional network spots in both daytime and prime-time slots, in-show mentions during the week prior to broadcast, and a full-page ad in USA Today.

During the broadcast, graphic and audio prompts encouraged the audience to interact. A total of 54,868 viewers interacted across all three platforms. PC-synchronized users spent an average 24 minutes per user with the interactive application: 50 percent of these users reported that the presence of interactivity heightened their level of attention to the broadcast; 82 percent remembered specific advertisers from the program; and 54 percent reported interactivity increased the amount of time they spent viewing the program.

A viewer survey conducted after the broadcast showed all three types of interactivity increased brand recall and attention to the program. Forty-five percent of users indicated the applications resulted in a much better viewing experience.

Respondents were grouped into four separate samples: control (those who viewed the program but did not interact on any platform); enhanced TV or ETV (those who viewed the program and interacted with the PC application); iTV (those who viewed the program and interacted with the Wink-STB application); and SMS (those who viewed the program and interacted with the SMS application). Among all the platforms, the ETV and iTV applications led in increasing overall satisfaction with the program and ads. SMS viewers who spent 30 minutes or more with the program indicated an increase in overall satisfaction versus SMS viewers who spent less than 30 minutes.

If you want the rest of the findings, please drop me a line. I’ll point you in the right direction.

I submit that while results were very positive, advertisers should follow a few simple best practices:

  • Limit the number of brands promoted. This provides the opportunity to delve deeper into messaging and overall brand satisfaction.

  • Save SMS for live variety and sports programming where interaction can, in some way, influence the programming.

  • Experiment with longer and more diversified promotional lead times across marketing channels. Target email house lists, people who subscribe to your newsletter or product update announcements. You may also want to tie in some type of incentive for sharing information. It’s a cost-effective and obvious way to reach your customers. You have the access. Use it.

Going forward, I’ll be watching other companies follow in the footsteps of J&J as the iTV ad market begins to mature. Welcome to the future of advertising, friends. It’s about time.

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