Uncertainty dogs digital ads

According to recent research by BMPtvi, while consumers understand the attraction of digital TV, advertisers are not so clear about the benefits, in particular the interactivity it offers.

According to recent research by BMPtvi, supported by The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), while consumers understand the attraction of digital TV, advertisers are not so clear about the benefits, in particular the interactivity it offers.

Digital TV offers subscribers a multitude of benefits, in particular better picture and sound quality, and a wider choice of channels.

Yet use of interactive TV (iTV), despite a general trend towards media that allows advertisers to reach a niche audience, is insignificant compared to other media. The survey discovered that only a fraction more advertisers use iTV than WAP technology in their marketing communications mix, with other media way ahead in terms of usage.

The reasons for this low level of use can be grouped into three key areas – value of the medium, immaturity and a lack of understanding.

Respondents cited both the overall price as a barrier to purchase, as well as a lack of proof for the value the expenditure represents.

There’s also a perception among advertisers that iTV is still under developed and has yet to prove its worth. Advertisers also add that information, including data about the product’s potential, is lacking.

Despite these reservations, advertisers did have some clear ideas about iTV benefits. Some 70 per cent cited the potential to target niche audiences, and just under two-thirds identified personalised one-to-one dialogues and the emergence of a new channel. Significantly fewer recognised iTV’s potential role for broadening the scope of the brand (41 per cent) or the contribution it could make as a revenue generator (40 per cent).

Probing deeper, an underlying concern about consumer attitudes towards iTV emerged. About 71 per cent of advertisers stated a belief that there is a low level of consumer awareness about iTV. In terms of advertising, this suspicion is justified by recent CIM consumer research (MW, April 26).

The research indicated that three-quarters of consumers had not seen a digital TV ad in the previous week. Only six per cent could remember seeing one in the previous 24 hours and, despite their interactive nature, only one per cent said they’d most likely respond to digital ads.

Despite the reservations advertisers expressed about iTV, they revealed a strong desire to know more about what it offers.

An unequivocal 85 per cent said they wanted to know more about the implications of iTV for marketing, while 82 per cent wanted to know more about who does what.

Only slightly fewer people wanted to know more about how to use the medium – 57 per cent craved for greater knowledge of the technology involved, 60 per cent wanted information on advertising opportunities and 70 per cent were interested in learning about how to deploy an iTV campaign.

Worries about the reach of the medium manifested themselves most obviously when respondents were asked to estimate the penetration of digital TV in the UK.

Some 81 per cent estimated penetration of 20 per cent of households or less. The industry itself reports penetration approaching 30 per cent.

A shortfall in information and a belief that iTV is still in its infancy, are clearly hampering the medium’s integrated communications campaigns.

The research states that once these problems are addressed, and a greater understanding exists, marketers will have a clearer idea of who to go to for campaign creation.

The seven per cent who would create ads in house and nine per cent who would rely on a traditional ad agency look set to be dramatically overshadowed by specialist new media companies.

Out of those surveyed, 32 per cent expect to use a new media agency to create their iTV ads, and 43 per cent named a specialist iTV agency as the most likely source.

Asked to assess the future of iTV delivery, marketers expressed uncertainty about which of the delivery platforms would achieve eminence.

The 12 per cent who believed that terrestrial digital would triumph were overshadowed by the 17 per cent who named cable, and a further 17 per cent chose satellite.

The overwhelming feeling in the marketing community is one of uncertainty. Some 54 per cent of those questioned believe no single technology will dominate digital delivery.

Encouragingly for iTV, the survey also reflects a desire for information and a belief that the medium will, in time, deliver significant benefits.

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