Ogilvy Pursues Convergence with iLoveTV

Another TV-to-Web convergence player is taking the field, but it’s got strong support from one of the online agency sector’s big players, OgilvyInteractive.

The advertising agency, which is a unit of WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, will pursue joint interactive television initiatives in conjunction with Toronto-based startup iLoveTV.

The startup’s technology connects televisions to PCs, and embeds special codes into broadcast signals that trigger Web pages to load on the PC. As a result, advertisers can use the system to launch pages that provide more information on products featured during TV spots.

That scenario is not unlike one envisioned by Dallas-based Digital:Convergence. The firm, best known for its free :CueCat scanner, started out by linking magazines and newspapers to Web URLs through bar-codes readable by the :CueCat. By mid-2001, the company had expanded into yellow pages and ultimately, television, through an alliance with General Electric-owned NBC, a partnership similar to that of OgilvyInterative and iLoveTV.

But Digital:Convergence fell on hard times, ultimately cutting most of its staff and losing the support of at least one major backer, media conglomerate Belo Corp., which, according to reports, decided to scrap the practice of placing :CueCat codes in its major papers and the broadcasts of its station WFAA-TV.

“Our television work … is on indefinite hold until we can find a way to make it more practical, financially,” said Digital:Convergence’s vice president for corporate communications, Peter Eschbach. “It holds a great deal of promise for the future. Look at the Super Bowl, where at the bottom of the screen, Fox was taking polls … telling people to login to Fox.com to vote. They recognize that a lot of people are surfing while they are watching TV, and with growing broadband that’s going to be even more true. But this technology … is not there yet.”

Despite the experience of its predecessor, iLoveTV is determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past with help from its new corporate partner. In addition to promoting its services to clients, OgilvyInteractive is also taking a major role in iLoveTV’s marketing communications, developing online advertising, sales tools, and corporate videos.

“We were interested in forming a strong relationship with iLoveTV because their technology enables Ogilvy and their clients to operate in a converged world now,” said OgilvyInteractive Managing Director Don Barnes, who becomes a member of the startup’s board of directors through the arrangement. “This is going to open up tremendous entertainment and advertising opportunities for our clients.”

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