Opt-In Television

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.

6 comments about "Opt-In Television ".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., September 30, 2009 at 2:31 p.m.

    Let's talk about two very different experiences: the 8 foot experience and the 2 foot experience. The 8 foot experience has me sitting on the sofa watching a 52 inch plasma TV in High Def - I'm not clicking on anything unless you pay me, I'm relaxing. The 2 foot experience has me watching some niche video or programming that I'm very interested in (on a PC), I'm chatting in a chat room and considering skyping in to add my own commentary - I'm engaged, clicking for info and bookmarking stuff. These two experiences are fundimentally different and I expect different things from each. I'm not interested in combining them, and most other folks aren't either. Do you really envision a world where a Downey Ad comes on during "Dancing With The Fat Stars" and I pick up a remote to click on it because I find it so engaging? Whew - dream on. People watch TV to disengage - people go online to engage (twitter, facebook, myspace, etc.) The new video media on the internet will continue to grow and engage while traditional broadcasting continues it's inevitable decline.

  2. Michael Michael kokernak from, September 30, 2009 at 2:36 p.m.

    consumer surveys -- and in the field market trials -- have disproved the two screen theory. Today TV is filled with URLs, 800#, Twitter, and YouTube videos. TV is already two screen without the benefit to consumers to 'tag' television content and move it to the small screen experience. I understand your thoughts on is really a technology that needs to be experienced to understand the value.

  3. Chuck Knerr from Lithia Auto Stores, September 30, 2009 at 2:51 p.m.

    "Breadcrumbs" was a platform for broadcasters, content owners and advertisers that accomplished exactly what you described. Between 2002 and 2005 we installed and operated on Clear Channel radio stations, and network television affiliates. Our software created a scrollable, graphical timeline on the station's homepage with a thumbnail "Breadcrumb" for each unit of content, programming or commercials. The Breadcrumb log was created automatically by our software and advertisers and content owners were able to manage the further links and offers through a back end tool set.

    We learned that if the station made the audience aware through promotion or tagging of spots with a call to action, audience usage was amazingly high. So what's the problem? We could not find a way to convince sales management or AEs to take it to advertisers as a a paid offering or value-add. They were already pushihg dozens of promotional ideas that one more was one straw too much. They could not understand the game changing value this connectivity represented. I personally drove business development at all levels, individual stations, group owners and broadcast and cable networks at senior and C-levels. The bottom line was that this one-way industry is extremely uncomfortable with two-way model.

    Whether their discomfort was with accountability or a simple lack of concern for what their customers wanted I can't say. I hope that changes because someone will offer what their customers want and they may lose their one-way distribution channel to the companies that do.

  4. Michael Michael kokernak from, September 30, 2009 at 2:55 p.m.

    good to hear on the breadcrumb consumer adoption. We found that the consumer to clickable television was incredibly high and some consumers can't see a future without it. In 2002 to 2005 the industry had not gone through the revenue adjustment I think the time has come for technologies like 'breadcrumbs'.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 30, 2009 at 3:33 p.m.

    Hope I never see this materialized. Too many people are so fragmented and so fractured that they can't keep a thought more than 60 seconds. Immediate gratification and a quick fix on everything is demanded even when it took them years to screw it up. May your medical proceedures be completed by those with longer attention spans.

  6. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., October 6, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    "consumer surveys -- and in the field market trials -- have disproved the two screen theory." Then why is the battlefield for interactive television strewn with expensive corpses? AOLTV, WebTV, cable television companies by the dozen dating back 10 years - all failures. Just because 8 people in a focus group in Des Moines liked it doesn't make it so.

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