Marketing

Sticking Clicks Into Ads

9/21/2009 11:00 AM Eastern

Interactive cable-TV advertising — after years in development and testing — stands to get its biggest real push to date this fall, as Cablevision Systems begins running clickable spots in front of 2.9 million digital-cable subscribers.

The service, called Optimum Select, will let viewers request coupons and product samples and eventually click to watch video-on-demand segments by pressing the “select” button on their remote controls during 30-second local ads.

Cablevision kicked off a teaser campaign last week to introduce the concept. In October, the operator expects to debut interactive spots with at least six major consumer-brand advertisers.

Benjamin Moore will be one of the first advertisers using the Optimum Select service. The paint company will run an interactive ad that will send the MSO's customers a coupon for a free two-ounce color sample if they press the “SEL” button on their remote while the spot is aired.

The service was designed to deliver an extremely simple interactive experience, said Cablevision senior vice president of marketing and business development Gemma Toner.

“We've done significant consumer research over the past year and consumers are kind of jaded on interactive TV,” she said. “We've chosen to make this application really simple to understand.”

As for how this will fit in with Canoe Ventures' plans to deliver request-for-information (RFI) capabilities, Toner said, “This is seeding the behavior for any interactive behavior. As a consumer, you know to press 'select' to act on that overlay.”

Canoe is the six-operator joint venture whose founding members are Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks. Canoe this summer canceled plans for its first product, Community Addressable Messaging, and instead said it would focus on launching an RFI service in the fourth quarter.

Initially, Cablevision's ITV ad service will launch with “Optimum Select RFI,” the request-for-information feature. The operator will roll out additional features in the next 12 months, including the ability for consumers to save video content for later viewing and eventually make purchases using the remote's “select” button.

Optimum Select spots display a “Select” button overlay at the bottom of the screen. If the viewer presses the “select” button, the current program is shifted to the top right corner of the screen to allow continued viewing. Various options may appear, including the ability to click the “select” button again — a double opt-in measure — to receive a free sample of the product, coupon, or additional product information, depending on the specific campaign and advertiser.

Once the consumer selects “Submit,” the sample, coupon or product information will be mailed to the subscriber's home using the address that corresponds with his or her account.

Cablevision vice president of media relations Jim Maiella said the pricing of the interactive-ad feature will be “part of broader discussions” between the operator and advertisers.

The MSO has also launched an addressable-advertising service to about 500,000 subscribers that delivers targeted spots based on an individual subscriber household's demographic data.

September