Monday, November 27, 2006

Interactive promotion report: interactive TV advertising

[Tags: , , ]. Guillaume Piot looks at:

Interactive TV advertising

What is interactive TV ?

Interactive TV is a recent marketing technique, that has been developed during the evolution of digital TV. The option that is available to the consumer is to press the “red button” of their remote control in order to access an interactive page displayed on the TV screen.

The “red button” option usually appears in the top right hand corner of the program or advert that contains an interactive page. Interactive TV is the perfect example of media convergence and remediation as it needs a connection to the internet in order to access the interactive page.
The following quote describes some application of this marketing technique:

“Typical interactive TV uses are selecting a video film to view from a central bank of films, playing games, voting or providing other immediate feedback through the television connection, banking from home, and shopping from home.”

In order to understand the way interactive TV works, I thought it would be useful to present the following schema (figure 1) :

(sorry, impossible to upload my picture on the wiki)

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of Interactive TV marketing are:

• It is a new experience for consumer who can interact with the advertiser (or the brand). “Interactive and personalized TV offers significant opportunities to advertisers, advertising agencies, TV Channels but most importantly can turn passive viewers to active participants, enhancing the TV viewing experience.”(Lekakos,
• It is accessible from the comfort of TV room and uses the fact that people spend a lot of time in front of their TV screen, and just have to press a button to access which is not a difficult task.
• It uses the advantages of interactive TV itself to enhance the quality of advertising, which are the following :

o high-speed internet access
o digital quality video
o surround-sound audio
o email via your TV
o films on demand or selected from a list of possible choices
o online shopping and banking
o cheap telephone calls over the Internet
o video conferencing
o many more TV channels, some USA companies are quoting up to 1000!

(information available from:

One main disadvantage of interactive TV marketing is the “digital divide” between the one who have digital TV and Internet connection and the one who haven’t. Nowadays, this is not the majority of the TV viewers who have this option and therefore restricts the audiences on interactive TV. Nevertheless, interactive TV subscriber number is rising (see figure 2) and therefore the digital divide should narrows during the new few years and widen the audiences on this marketing technique.

• The National Geographic channel is currently using interactive promotion to advertise its brand new programme called: "I didn't know that". The programme broadcasted on digital TV gives the option to "press the red button" in order to get further information.
On the National Geographic web site, different techniques are used to get the attention of the visitors on the new programme, and to spread the message. A banner adverts send the user to a flash animation which features a game, a competition, some videos, and a virtal marketing applicattion (eg. apply a fake smile to picture and forward it to your friends). The promotion gives a lucrative view on National Geographic programme, usually seen as boring.

• The toothpaste and soap brands (Colgate and Palmolive) recently associated in a red button advertising campaign. The principle is that consumers can send a picture of their smile with their mobile phone (MMS) and then see if they have been selected by pressing the "red button".
More that being entertaining with the idea of sharing and showing people smile, the campaign is a real encouragement for using the red button and therefore be familiar with it. Every person who sent their picture will press the red button at least to see if they have been selected. In this way, I consider that the campaign is efficient, pushing the consumers to use the interactive TV.
"The ubiquity of the mobile phone and the interactivity of the red button complement each other well and enable Colgate to engage its target audience on a one-to-one basis in an innovative way," said Matt White, interactive manager at Channel 4.
The target market is essentially teenage and young adults who are the most likely to be familiar with picture messaging.

• The famous toy brand LEGO plan to start soon an interactive TV campaign aimed to advertise their new range (Batman LEGO). An article from NMA gives some information about it:
“The sponsorship will be supported with a 30-second TV commercial intended to drive viewers to a specially created Lego campaign site, featuring a range of tailor-made mini-movies” (Jones, 2006).

“Viewers can also press red on their remote controls to access the Lego-branded iTV game. Created in-house by Turner's design and build team, the bespoke maze game allows children to guide a Lego Batman through ten different levels” (Jones, 2006).

The LEGO iTV campaign is made of videos and games, targeted to children and easily accessible on TV by pressing the “red button” during an advert.

I think it will be very efficient especially during the post-Christmas period, emphasizing the influence of the TV adverts and enhancing the LEGO experience for children.

LEGO TV commercial:


Rob Cover wrote an article in the journal New Media & Society that “examines the ways in which recent theorizations of interactivity work to reconceive the author-text-audience relationship” (2006). The author tries to define the concept of interactivity, using example in CD-ROMs, DVDs, interactive TV and Flash Web sites.

In the same context but more related to our subject, Kim & Sawhney wrote an article that “examines the meaning of interactivity or interactive communication and the theoretical issues related to interactive TV” (2002). The article reveals a very important difference between Commercial TV and interactive TV:

“The business model of traditional TV depends on the intermediary firms for mass delivery of content from the control center to the audience in the periphery. In a nutshell, the basic goal of these intermediary firms is ‘control’: control of production, control of distribution and control of consumption. Interactive communication, however, is able to eliminate the intermediaries as it can bypass the center to constitute communication channels” (Kim, 2002).

The control of the content by consumer is becoming more and more common in the media, as it is in interactive TV.

• More than a marketing technique, interactive TV can have some education functions. A good example is “t-learning”, which stands for the convergence of interactive TV and e-learning.
In an academic research about the convergence of interactive TV and and e-Learning, it “argues that iTV can facilitate e-learning, and also add value to this practice” (Lycras,


The key to an efficient interactive TV campaign is to target it to the right audiences and bring content such as games or videos that entertain the consumer, while giving him control of what is on the TV screen.

Interactive TV is still a new marketing tool that hasn’t been adopted by the majority of consumers yet, mainly because the consumers need the technology to access iTV, which is still not affordable for everybody. Nevertheless, as we saw in figure 2, the percentage of interactive TV consumer is rising, which give this marketing technique some very good prospects.


Cover, R (2006). Audience inter/active: Interactive media, narrative control and reconceiving audience history, New Media & Society. SAGE Publications London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi Vol8(1):139–158. Available at: Accessed on 19/10/06?.
Jones, G (2006). Lego in digital deal with Turner as it pushes new Batman range, New Media Age. Available at: Access on 19/10/06?.
Kim P, Sawhney H (2002). A machine-like new medium – theoretical examination of interactive TV, Media, Culture & Society. SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 24: 217–233. Available at: Accessed on 19/10/2006?.
Lekakos, Papakiriakopoulos, Chorianopoulos, (year unknown). An Integrated Approach to Interactive and Personalized TV Advertising. Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece. Available at: Accessed on 19/10/06?.
Lycras, Lougos, Chozos, Pouloudi, (year unknown). Interactive Television and e-Learning Convergence: Examining the Potential of t-learning. Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece. Available at: Accessed on 19/10/06?.


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Blogger Bruce said...

The 'red button' phenomenon had been a momentous stage in the history of television. Interactive marketing is one of the best ways to engage the viewers to take part in new products, programs and the like.

In most parts of the world and in Calgary, commercials are creatively done to attract large viewership. Sophisticated (Calgary) video productions make sure that the consumers would be curious about the product. Slowly, the commercials today are adopting the 'red button' option as a way to extensively promote their products.

Very informative post. Thanks!

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