Sky helps TV ads move into the third dimension

Sky launches the UK’s first 3D channel today (1 October). What does the third dimension offer to advertisers?

“Seeing is believing.” That is what Sky wants us to feel about 3D. Live demonstrations in pubs, cinemas and in-store have been running throughout the summer and will be ramped over the autumn. Hilary Perchard, director of product management at Sky, believes it’s the best way to market the new technology – to consumers and advertisers.

“We need people to see 3D,” says Perchard. “The feedback from focus groups and all the events we’ve had has been truly astounding. I’ve never seen people so enthusiastic about a product launch.”

As far as the programming goes, in comparison to the ’here comes the 3D bit’ of previous 3DTV experiences, Sky3D offers the opportunity for total immersion in the 3D ’world’, including the ad breaks, with only 3D ads being shown on the channel.

“With HD, we don’t do anything that different to a standard definition channel,” says Graham Appleby, director of commercial partnerships at Sky Media. “But with Sky3D it gives the viewer a complete 3D experience. This gives TV advertisers an opportunity to produce something different and create the same standout as 3D programmes.”

Getting brands to part with the added cash needed to produce a 3D ad spot is something Sky Media are also trying to manage.

“We point people in the right direction,” says Appleby. “We have creative sources that we recommend; production houses who are used to working in 3D.”

“The technical specifications are quite stringent. When brands have made a 3D ad, perhaps it’s not necessary the right sort of 3D ad [for the channel], so we offer advice and technical assistance,” adds Appleby.

It makes sense that the likes of LG, Panasonic and Disney/Pixar want to spend on 3DTV advertising as it showcases what they do. But what about other brands where the extra cost of producing a 3D ad might be a harder sell? Evidence suggests that brands one might not associate with 3D technology are getting in on the act already. At launch Sky already has six brands with 3D TVC lined up, which include automotive and FMCG ads.

During last year’s 3D week on Channel 4, cognac Courvoisier premiered its Courvoisier Exclusif 3D ad. In it, the product burst out of the screen to form a Napoleonic emblem, with glass fragments, liquid and ice spiralling into a Courvoisier cocktail, which Courvoisier marketing manager, Janice McIntosh described as “creating a sensory experience.” Using the ’hyper-real’ quality of 3D could be in an indication of the way advertisers can exploit the technology in the future.

Appleby and his team have been doing the rounds talking to agencies and brands to get them on board with 3D. For some it’s been an easy sell. But as with HD, do they have any clues as to which consumers will take to 3D, and therefore which brands are likely to make a success of advertising on the platform? The content offered at initially points to families and sports fans.

At launch Sky3D kicks off with golf’s Ryder Cup, followed by Barclays Premier League, Rugby Union Autumn Internationals and WBA boxing coverage over the next few weeks. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs will lead the channel’s film content, along with Alice In Wonderland, Bolt, Fly Me To The Moon in the coming months. In January, Toy Story 3 3D will premiere on the channel along with the rest of the Toy Story franchise.

“When we showcase it to agencies it gets a great reaction. When we showcase in pubs it gets a great reaction. The honest answer is, [at this stage] we don’t really know,” says Appleby. “A bit like HD, a lot of people said ’it’ll never catch on’ – and look at it now,” he adds.

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