The red button on the remote was a little ahead of its time. About a decade ago, pioneers of interactive TV advertising tried to push broad adoption of advertising that used the red button on the cable remote to engage consumers. In test markets, viewers could use the red button to order a brochure or a coupon, answer polls, vote for a reality show competition, or even make purchases through these early interactive experiments.
The red button never really did take off, though. Then with the advent of digital, streaming and OTT devices, TV changed inexorably, in ways that those interactive pioneers may not have anticipated. It would still be five years until Netflix would have its own hit program.
The promise becomes reality
Flash forward. Enter Advanced TV — an umbrella term from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) that refers to several forms of streaming content, including connected TV, TV everywhere, linear addressable and video on demand (VOD) addressable. It has enabled a new crop of interactive TV advertisers to try their hand at compelling viewers to engage.
Technology advances and our viewing habits have progressed so that interaction with TV seems much more natural than it might have been 10 years ago. More TV viewing experiences are connected to a keyboard or a touch screen or are voice-enabled. Streaming itself already relies on interaction with the viewer — the process of actively browsing a catalog and choosing a program. On the periphery, we are even seeing truly interactive broadcasting, such as Steven Soderberg’s Mosaic, which allows viewers to choose their own adventure.
Interactivity makes a big difference
The opportunities for brand and agency creative to allow for consumer engagement in the interactive TV space are now too great to ignore. There is research now that demonstrates the power of interactive ads, both to encourage engagement and to enhance a brand experience. Media strategy group Magna found that interactive video ads drive a 47 percent gain in time spent with a marketing message compared to a non-interactive ad.
The same study found that when consumers interact with 15-second interactive ads, brands triple their time spent with those consumers. Even if viewers don’t click on an online video, just the option to interact makes the ad 32 percent more memorable than non-interactive ads — driving 9x higher impact on purchase intent.
From my perspective, industries like automotive, entertainment and media, retail and CPG have been largely responsible for effectively pushing the envelope with creative interactive TV advertising. But every company should consider creative ways to use interactive TV to supercharge the brand experience.
The right creative can invite consumers to:
- Participate in designing a product.
- Agree to watch an extended trailer for a highly anticipated movie.
- Choose the type of ad that most appeals to them.
Interactive TV ads can even enable consumers to purchase products instantly through click-to-buy options.
Here is guidance for interactive TV creative that can have a big impact in extending your brand experience:
- Keep it open-ended: The more options you make available to the viewer, the more customizable the experience will be. The more customized the experience, the more deeply the consumer may be able to connect to your brand.
- Measure, measure, measure: The power of interactive advertising is not only on the push side and the effect on the viewer. Interactive advertising also creates the opportunity for the pull side, such as data aggregation. An interactive ad provides a great opportunity for feedback that may serve to inform changes to your marketing strategy or even future product development. If you invite consumers to design the elements of a running shoe and a significant portion of participants opts for a similar set of design choices, this information may be a key indicator of the design’s potential popularity as a ready-made model. The data you collect isn’t just for the interactive ad itself, but it could also be valuable market research for your product or service.
- Use as many assets as you can: Sharing your unique content means more viral opportunities across your social assets. This tactic is especially true for entertainment and media companies. Use interactive ads to share whatever content or assets you can come up with. For example, alternate trailers, outtakes and appointment features to RSVP for a movie’s release date. For retail and CPG brands, if a consumer can design a custom product and then share it across social media channels, your brand consequently gets amplified through free media!
The opportunity for interactive TV advertising is just beginning, and, fortunately for your brand, the difficult job of blazing a trail has already been done. Take advantage of the power of interactive TV advertising to make ads that wow, that engage, that promote your brand and that provide important feedback. These are just a few tips for using creative to help maximize your opportunity with interactivity. As the technology matures, the opportunities are likely boundless.
Have other ideas for using creative to make interactive TV advertising that supercharges the brand experience? Share them with me on Twitter — my account name is part of my bio below.