Just When It Seemed It Might Be Through, ITV Begins Clicking Through: Report Finds Viewers, Advertisers Interacting With The Tube

After quiet but steady growth, a new report finds that interactive television advertising has started making some noise with some high-profile deals.

A recent interactive campaign by IBM on The History Channel and a steadily growing number of advertisers running on TiVo's Showcases were singled out in the quarterly report by BrightLine Partners, a consultancy that specializes in interactive television advertising. BrightLine said that many of the pieces are falling into place: The technology is working well, marketers are discovering the possibilities, and the campaigns are beginning to reach a mass audience.

"New levels of consumer awareness are anchoring the importance of ITV in the minds of programmers and marketers," BrightLine partners said. Part of the force driving ITV forward is the consumers' interest and use of digital video recorders. It may not be enough for the networks and agencies to change the way they're doing things on the wholesale level, but the growing penetration of digital video recorders is more than enough to spark greater interest and use of campaigns.



In early December, IBM sponsored enhanced programming on The History Channel that used two-screen technology (TVs and computers) for a chance to win prizes. The History Channel boosted the amount of time spent with the medium. TiVo, which takes hits for giving viewers the ability to skip advertising, is doing the opposite with Showcases, the interactive-advertising campaigns that are downloaded to TiVo boxes regularly. Showcases have been used by a number of major advertisers, including Acura, BMW, Dell, Coca-Cola, Best Buy, and even networks like Fox and PBS. Clickthrough rates are as high as 50 percent.

But these dynamics will put additional pressure on programmers to develop a variety of interactive content that appeals to advertisers and viewers. It will also depend on advertisers and cable operators, who are all driven by differing desires for the interactive industry.

"Maintaining interactive television advertising's newfound momentum through 2004 and beyond will require a balancing act among programmers, advertisers, and operators eager to seize upon its potential," the report said.

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