CAMPAIGN-I PERSPECTIVE: Interactive TV ads need an audience

The news that Static TV has been bought by OpenTV is not overly

surprising, but while the industry grunts and says it is an obvious move

in the interactive TV arena, the bigger picture has to be viewed.



For Static, it means that they have more money to play with and a higher

profile, and for the US-based OpenTV it means they can extract from

Static the experience and credibility the UK has in the market of

interactive TV, something the US clearly lacks. But will that matter in

the unenthusiastic US interactive TV market?



New media, in general, is a fairly wobbly bridge to be standing on, and

start talking about interactive TV and you're not guaranteed an

audience.



To many, the concept of people interacting with the box in a corner of

their living room seems alien, but to others the idea of interacting

with a computer is just as strange. It has to be realised that the

internet isn't dead, it's just resting, and although it is a valid

medium, it is not the world's saviour.



The internet will always be around, and will always be a medium for

marketing and advertising. But take into account that some 40 per cent

of the world's population are never going to be avid internet surfers,

and you're left with the realisation that for all your dhtml, skyscraper

banners and intersticials, it is not TV, radio or press. And Jupiter

MMXI's presentation stating such insights - at the global online

advertising forum in Cannes this week - was not really needed to point

that out.



The other big news in new media - the IPA and ISBA's launch of JICNET -

is as interesting as Static's buyout. For the internet to be taken

seriously as a medium, it has to have a regulated measuring system,

showing advertisers exactly who they can talk to and how they react.

There's far too much distrust in net measurement as it is, so two big

bodies joining forces is to be welcomed.



But to go back to interactive TV, despite Granada's lack of faith in the

medium - the media company has admitted it would welcome a partner in

ONdigital - the industry has a serious PR exercise to undertake. The

British public are interested in interactive TV, and research from

dotcoms such as Lastminute.com reveals that internet users are using

interactive TV, but until high-profile, high-street brands invest time,

money and publicity into their interactive TV offerings, it will remain

like the internet - a medium that's useless to advertisers if it has no

accounted-for audience.