Commentary

Clickable Cash Register

The spotlight today from the traditional side of advertising is on set-top-box ratings; although the opportunity, I believe, comes from technology that could link TV content to the Internet (by way of the remote control click).

Focus on Consumer Experience


While there may be business model challenges, there are really no barriers left -- thanks to the digital conversion, which would make clickable TV advertising technically possible.  

Much like how Nielsen and closed-captioning is embedded in digital content, advertisers could embed their own codes in content and then marry those codes to their own executable software applications (or one provided by an interactive television service) inside the consumer set-top box.

How it works: once the marketer's TV commercial passes through the set-top box, the consumer could potentially activate a cross-platform experience by clicking the remote. For instance, if I am home watching traditional television and I see a commercial for fast food, I should be able to click my remote and then perhaps get emailed a coupon.

The act of embedding unique codes in digital content -- so they can travel anywhere via fiber, over the air, cable, satellite, or Web --  will take time to scale and to be available in every market; but clickable content seems to be the natural next step for television.

An important point in the age of the DVR is that clickable TV does not take viewers away from their TV shows.  In essence, viewers keep watching their favorite show while the marketer's follow-up commercial message is sent to either the Internet or a mobile phone, where it can be redeemed by viewers on their terms and then tracked for ROI.

Trends Indicate Consumers Want Opt-In

In order for it to work, clickable TV would have to be opt-in, so that users could manage their own email and mobile number preferences.  The consumer opt-in tools would most likely be found on a Web site. Using these types of Web sites won't be a hurdle for consumers, since most of the major multichannel distributors today are rolling out Internet DVR scheduling tools and subscribers should  be able to use both systems easily.

During November of 2007, Hollywood came to a standstill as the WGA strike sought out and won compensation for new media -- with major concessions found in the repurposing of TV content for Internet and mobile consumption. 

The "stickiness" of the cross platform would only increase, as content producers and writers adopt the technology and link their television programming to the Internet and perhaps a mobile device. I think when interactive television really takes off is when you can put the right message inside the right clickable content.

If built correctly, a cross-platform system (comprised of hundreds of companies) could provide marketers with digital flexibility and metrics stability for decades to come.  Our future, therefore, should be inclusive of both the TV and Internet.  

With growing DVR and TV usage numbers, today's "traditional TV" should have no problem holding its viewership through a multi-year process of introducing interactive television to the masses.  Once finished, perhaps the age of integrated media will finally be upon us.

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3 comments about "Clickable Cash Register".
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  1. carey pickle, September 23, 2009 at 1:25 p.m.

    I'm curious about the demographics of the set top boxes and how many use them and in what areas?

  2. Dean Collins from Cognation Inc, September 23, 2009 at 1:45 p.m.

    the problem will always be different systems and different 'agendas'.

    could we at least agree on a 'record this tv show avert button' standard - http://deancollinsblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/video-hotspots-and-others.html

  3. MediaMark Walker, September 23, 2009 at 3:22 p.m.

    Can someone provide an update on the Comcast trial in South Florida (WPB) using the SA box and the A/B/C buttons? That test will help a lot with where we can and are going with this.

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