Zeebox could show the way for TV ad data-gathering


Zeebox’s launch last week of click-to-buy TV ads thrust interactivity into the foreground of TV marketing. But the medium could do so much more.

Zeebox’s social media site and mobile app will allow users to click on advertisers’ links in real time from a phone, tablet or computer screen, as the corresponding ads run on a TV screen. It provides one of very few methods that marketers can currently use to link their TV ads strongly to sales and web traffic data.

But considering how far consumers have come in their “dual-screening” behaviour, TV broadcasters, broadcast platforms and advertisers themselves could be trying harder to show this data link.

Zeebox is never going to be a mass-market ad platform as it currently stands. Though it has an early-mover advantage in aggregating news and Twitter feeds about TV shows as they happen, it only has niche appeal. It is a one-trick pony, in that it is only useful to consumers if the only reason they want to use Twitter is to comment on a TV programme while it’s on.

But the principle of showing exactly how many people are prompted by a TV ad to seek out the brand is a good one. As viewing of TV on web-based platforms grows, it should be possible to expand the function to click through on an ad itself as it plays.

And if the technology is not currently reliable enough to do this by clicking through the TV screen, broadcasters and advertisers need to provide this option in other places.

These include online media players, where viewers streaming a programme live should be able to click through on the ads in real time. Brands could also be buying complementary time-sensitive ads on social media sites, where TV viewers are simultaneously surfing.

As Marketing Week wrote in its cover feature on 13 October last year, advertisers are impatient for more data to prove the effectiveness of their TV advertising, beyond the limited breakdown of audience figures they currently get. Without that, many marketers will target their budgets towards more accountable media spending.

Marketers and their creative agencies need to start thinking differently about TV too. If TV is to demonstrate its effectiveness in terms of direct response, ads need to be tailored accordingly with specific calls to action. They also need to incentivise consumers to sit, watch and interact rather than tuning out to go and put the kettle on.

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