MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - Interactive TV has finally arrived, but are shops ready?

It was surely no coincidence that ITV chose to trumpet the benefits of interactive television just a few days before the launch of Open on Sky. Interactivity is one bandwagon every broadcaster would do well to jump on, even those, like ITV, for whom interactive television still means being able to turn the volume up with a remote control.

It was surely no coincidence that ITV chose to trumpet the benefits

of interactive television just a few days before the launch of Open on

Sky. Interactivity is one bandwagon every broadcaster would do well to

jump on, even those, like ITV, for whom interactive television still

means being able to turn the volume up with a remote control.



Open’s launch hasn’t quite been met with the bells and whistles which

greeted digital’s debut last autumn, but does anyone really doubt that

interactive television is going to change our lives? ITV’s chief

executive, Richard Eyre, clearly does not, given his strong words at the

ITV 2000 presentation last week. It may have seemed incongruous among

all the cosy familiarity of ITV’s star names, but Eyre had one eye

firmly fixed on the future - even if everyone else seems likely to get

there before him.



Interactive TV, he said, is ’a holy grail for advertisers - the

creativity of the most powerful medium on earth and the follow-through

of direct mail, live, immediate, on-screen. It’s a titanic

combination.’



Television could really change some advertising thinking. And there are

a number of agencies - media and creative - who will find themselves out

of their depth.



Consider the implications. If forecasts prove accurate, Open could offer

more than two million homes the chance to shop from their sofas by

Christmas.



I can’t imagine foregoing the pleasure of browsing a bookshop or

flicking though a rack of albums, but then I live in London and have a

world of choice on my doorstep, as the internet has already proved,

online shopping can work for millions of people. Some retailers will

undoubtedly begin to enjoy significant volume sales though TV home

shopping and the implications for advertising are enormous.



The real challenge will come from interactive advertising, which is due

to launch on Open early next year. Viewers will be able to interact with

TV ads to request samples, view video brochures or make direct purchases

from screen. TV advertising will finally become accountable. Advertisers

will know immediately whether their ads have worked, how many people

have seen it and have been prompted to take further action, how many

products they have sold on the back of the TV ad and who has bought

them.



There will still be an important role for quality branding work, but the

emphasis on shifting product will be keener - and more measurable - than

ever.



Perhaps it will take the launch of interactive advertising on ITV before

the advertising industry truly embraces the potential, but when it

happens advertisers will know more than ever before about the

effectiveness of their agencies’ work. And that’s something agencies

should be preparing for right now.



claire.beale@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).