Interactive TV’s future lies in greater flexibility

Rather than the beginning of the end for interactive TV, Open’s consolidation into Sky should be seen as a catalyst for greater creativity, says Jez Groom

Last month’s news about the disbanding of Open and its integration into Sky should be welcomed by agencies and clients alike.

Many observers view this rationalisation as a signal that interactive TV will career down a slippery slope in the same manner the Internet has of late.

I firmly believe that this consolidation will prove to be the exact opposite and will be the much-needed catalyst that should drive TV interactivity to new heights.

As a sales operation, Open has been acutely focussed on building a shopping mall, dealing directly with clients and then, in turn, content partners. The opportunity for non-content partners to be involved in interactive TV has been severely limited because the Open sales proposition simply didn’t have extensive agency relationships and couldn’t generate the exposure it needed to create an exciting interactive TV market.

The formation of Sky Interactive will not only provide that exposure, but will also tap into established relationships based on years of investment of time and money from both Sky and agencies alike.

As consumers become conversant with new technologies, clients are increasingly requesting the delivery of communication properties across a multitude of platforms.

Not only can planners now build integrated digital campaigns, but sales teams can drive the interactive market with added value innovative business solutions within an overall communication package.

The whole process will be less cumbersome, more seamless and should take less time to bring offerings into a traditional TV market that needs an injection of spark and innovation.

Coupled with integration is the flexibility that needs to be brought to bear in the market in order to accommodate the spectrum of advertisers needs.

In order to sell to clients, the expense of interactive TV needs to be addressed. Open offers set bandwidth, despite the varying needs of the client or brand, and therefore prescribes the interactivity available to a brand.

Crucially, creative flexibility is critical, brands want to have their own identity in an interactive TV space – not the standard Open template.

We’ve already seen how the market has progressed with limited creativity in what should be a hotbed for innovation. Now is the time for creative agencies to seize the opportunity to drive advertiser-to-viewer dialogue on TV to dizzying heights. In the emerging digital TV environment brands will need to entertain and engage viewers – as empowered consumers decide whether they want to watch the commercials.

For me, the opportunity is far greater than simply betting or buying pizzas through the TV set. I believe that a seamless, one-stop-shop for agencies and advertisers is a step forward for the interactive TV market.

Jez Groom is a director of Starcom Motive

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