Ads must work hard to lure interactive viewers

Interactive media demands that advertisers devise more creative strategies to engage a consumer base with ever-widening media choices.

I arrived home from work late last night, and thankfully my personal video recorder “remembered” that I wanted to watch The Simpsons, and recorded it for me (without those nasty ads, of course).

Sky Box Office was showing Mission Impossible 4, and when I selected it, a pizza and my favourite ice cream were automatically delivered at half price.

I then watched an interactive ad on ITV and was able to take a simulated ride in the latest BMW 7 Series, and have one delivered to my door for a weekend test drive.

Think this sounds implausible? Think again, because it is likely to be a reality within a year or two.

Share of viewing and revenue, and the corporate structure of our broadcasters, are today’s issues. But the big issues over the next few years will be how much “traditional” viewing there will be to take a share of, or to demand an ad budget for, and how communication strategies will have to evolve to optimise return on investment.

It will not be long before the standard measure of a broadcast campaign will be the volume of responses or sales it generated – the ultimate in media auditing.

Consumers now have to consider the most convenient and engaging way to shop, bank, or communicate with friends. Should they subscribe to Open or buy a PC? Do they make a phone call or send an e-mail? Do they throw away their PlayStations to play online?

These choices are becoming commonplace, and we need to consider them when formulating our strategies – TV is no longer a one-way medium.

Advertisers will be able to move freely up and down the communication spectrum. This will range from spot ads to the more personal relationship formed through interactive links and responses, to the ultimate goal of providing content.

The creative issue is key. More than ever viewers will have to be engaged and tempted into this new advertiser/customer relationship. We won’t be able simply to place an interactive icon at the top of our latest TV ads.

To find the right solutions, at the right time, will require integrated communication operations working across all disciplines – from creative to production to media.

Fragmentation, consolidation, convergence and politics will affect the pace of change, but it will ultimately be the power of that little box in the corner that makes the difference.

Future viewing trends and uses of the TV, as well as trading practices, will change dramatically.

So, while most lament the consolidation of ITV sales, let us not lose sight of the bigger picture.

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