ITV ads need time and compatibility to get it right

Being able to run cross-platform iTV ads would help make the media more effective, but first we must revisit the ABCs of marketing.

Last weekend I settled down with my Sunday paper ready to read about the recent UK interactive TV restructures. Restructuring among the main UK interactive TV platforms should mean major changes shouldn’t it? As it was I was met with a resounding silence on the whole subject.

There were a few relevant column inches but nothing like the level of analysis I’d expected. I realised that although interactive TV might dominate most of my working thoughts, a few restructurings in what is still a nascent, albeit exciting, industry are not really enough to merit banner Sunday headlines.

It was a reminder that those of us in the industry still have a lot of work to do to make interactive TV an everyday tool that everyone uses. Introducing open standards, which affects my ability to put the same interactive ad on every TV in the UK regardless of the platform, would help because it will enable us to roll out successes more quickly and cheaply. The consensus appears to be that iTV systems will continue to move towards this, though it won’t happen overnight. Let’s use that time to invest in trials and to fine-tune our interactive ads (and there are some increasingly imaginative examples emerging) so that we’re equipped with successful models one open standards arrives.

I believe we should return to the principles that have underlain sound marketing for decades – who are we trying to reach, what type of consumer behaviour are we trying to prompt and, therefore, what cues should we provide to encourage consumers to react in that way? If we can’t provide those cues through the TV then consumer won’t be moved by interactive ads.

For example, if I want to persuade you to have a flutter on the horses through your TV, you’ll need emotional cues – images from the race build-up perhaps – plus rational cues such as the betting odds and form.

Similarly, if I want you to buy a CD through your TV, you’ll probably need the emotional cues of the music video plus the rational cues of pricing and delivery details. And if you always compare prices before you buy, I’ll need to offer some sort of guarantee of good value or say goodbye to your custom.

If we need time for more trials to work these things out in detail – before interactive ads get rolled out to every TV in the country – then so be it.

Maurice Flynn is head of iTV at Good Technology

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