A decade ago -- during the last incarnation of interactive television -- the Internet was still relatively new. The logical approach back then for interactive TV was to integrate cable subscriber billing information, the set-top-box MAC address, and the on-screen "clickable moment."
The thinking was that consumers did not want to fill out on-screen "forms" with their remote control; integration with the cable billing data solved that problem. But this system does not work so well if there are more than a few people living in a household.
I have not seen the user features for the upcoming clickable television launches. I can't say whether they will be exactly like the technologies trialed in the early part of this decade. But what I am hoping is that soon clickable television will leverage the Internet in a way that was not possible 10 years ago.
Using a Web-based opt-in system, consumers could input all the names and profiles for their household and link them to their set-top box(es). Each person would be assigned his or her own TV remote button (A, B, C, D). This system would eliminate the need to integrate with cable billing information.
Continuing with my train of thought, I believe the best approach is to have each person's TV clicks sent to their own password-protected Web site for retrieval. Theoretically, consumers would click something they saw on TV, which would then match to a corresponding Internet link, and as a result a bookmark would then be placed on their home page (just like RSS works). This would give consumers the cross-platform control they want, while also providing opt-in cross-platform metrics to marketers.
If this is rolled out in a few short years, it could include the following features:
TV to Internet downloads -- click a TV promotional spot with your remote, and then follow up on your laptop to download a paid song from iTunes.
TV linked to show Web site -- while watching "Seinfeld," you can click the TV remote to access the show's fan Web site.
TV pay-per-click advertising -- the networks and broadcast stations will still sell :30 second commercials; but now all those commercials and swipes can be monetized through TV pay-per click advertising.
Since consumers will opt in to clickable television, the value of each clicked message will be far greater than today's Internet advertising. Consumers will come to depend on the technology in much the same way they rely on email.
It is exciting to be on the threshold of these clickable television launches. However, it is more exciting knowing that TV-to-Internet integration could potentially be on the near horizon.