Commentary

Rethinking Interactive TV Measurement

One of the hurdles that could hold back widespread adoption of interactive television is the numerous templates needed for creative execution. For over a decade, conventional practice has been to communicate interactive advertising messages through the use of multiple overlays. 
 
We have all seen these overlays. The common experience is, once viewers "click" their remote, they are brought to another overlay (or walled garden) from which they can select a coupon, catalog, or perhaps a telemarketing call-back.  
 
Since the beginning of the interactive television movement, integrating the graphical overlay and the offer has been the accepted approach.  But I think this institutional viewpoint won't be with us for much longer. With most media companies integrating lower third graphics and video content, use of the overlay may lessen as the next generation of clickable technologies is released. 
 
For instance, instead of using an overlay, the "call to action" could appear in the same television frame as the advertiser's Web site address and toll-free number.  The same commercial could conceivably air across many interactive-enabled media outlets without employing unique overlays. 
 
For agencies, the focus then should be to establish a very simple metric regarding television engagement. Engagement metrics might not be generated by tuning data or addressable advertising, but instead derived from a single remote control "click."  
 
While today's interactive experiences include on-screen polling and multiple choice questions, the scale required for nationwide interactive advertising hinges on establishing an engagement formula tied to a single "click."  The formula should be as simple as a "yes, no, or maybe" proposition.  
 
Yes -- I am interested.  I clicked and followed up on the offer. 
No -- I am not interested.  I did not click. 
Maybe -- I am interested. I clicked.  I have not followed up on the offer at this time. 
 
Measuring television advertising engagement using "yes, no, or maybe" is easy since the only action required is a single remote control "click."  Obviously there will be some engineering involved to establish how to collect the data in a privacy-compliant way and how to link the TV "click" to the Internet for tracking; however, a loosely coupled scheme (or data dictionary) consistent across all silos should speed both advertiser and viewer adoption. 

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2 comments about "Rethinking Interactive TV Measurement".
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  1. Dean Procter from Transinteract, November 20, 2009 at 12:15 a.m.

    Michael I agree with the 'keep it simple' you can guess my views. I like -
    yes
    I clicked - so sell it to me and settle the transaction and dispatch it to me (eg. the fishing reel I'll need on my next holiday) - without me needing to do anything else

    or
    if you can't then call me to finalize the sale (eg the holiday booking)

    or perhaps....
    yes - I clicked so ask me to confirm that I want to buy it, if I don't then assume I just want more information (and an easy path to buy)

    If I didn't do anything then your ad didn't move me to action.

    Then make it work on every channel without an overlay and I also want to be able to buy while watching cable (I don't subscribe) at my friend's house.
    Also my kids should be able to do it too watching our TV or their friend's cable.

    That is what I call advertising with measurable results.

    Do-able with any and every broadcast media channel with scaling capacity in say 100k transactions per second increments perhaps? Obviously no remote or set-top box required just eyes on a screen, no web addresses or phone numbers need be shown on the screen - just the sell and the call to action. Real time - real results.

    Doesn't require the co-operation of the broadcasters or carriers of course so there's a lot less hoo-haa. Testing now (no need for advertisers to cooperate either - ie. click to buy/find out about same product or similar from non-advertiser perhaps).

    Potential to open a whole can of fun worms eh?

    Keeping it $imple.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 20, 2009 at 2:14 p.m.

    I think you have it backwards, starting with "I am interested" instead of the behavior. Attitudes don't pay the grocery bill.

    Instead, how about this:

    Yes -- I clicked. I'm interested.
    No -- I did not click. How interested could I possibly be?

    Period.

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