MEDIA: SKY'S WTVML SYSTEM - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. The system behind interactive ads on Sky is too good to use to send out samples

The promise of this next phase of interactive TV is great. The ability not only to encourage the viewer to respond easily, staying within the broadcast stream, but also to give more useful information so that marketers can really start to drive understanding of the respondents. This ability to understand demographics and usage of products is all part of the great future for TV we have forecast and foreseen.

So, armed with spot times for an advertiser using Sky's new WTVML technology, I prepared to be delighted on my Sunday evening. In truth, I was - but for one fundamental issue.

The ad ran (at the close of WWF wrestling - for Nivea Satin Sheen!), I pressed the red button, then was asked if I wanted my free sample. I eagerly pressed on and gave my title, name and age through the letters on the keypad. The process took about one minute or so and then the modem dialled in and sent my request. Admittedly, I can't believe we're the only household where our handset is worn - where we struggle to work out where the "P" and "U" should be because they have been worn away through our children's indecision between Nickelodeon, Discovery Kids and Boomerang!. Nevertheless the technology worked and the promise met.

But here is a fundamental issue. Why would the viewer go to so much effort?

A free sample - is it really worth it? I can see the logic and power of collecting data, for example with cars and a replacement intention date or even financial services asking for a renewal date. But what I can't believe is that the viewer will really spend so much effort to receive a free sample of Nivea, however good the product is. Added to that, for those who do go to the effort, my next thought is - are they really going to be Nivea's new buyers?

If the technology is going to be used, let's use it properly. Simply collecting my name and age is not very exciting, and since that was all that was asked then it will not be very useful. But then, having said all that, would I (or more likely my wife) really get so involved with our remote control for a freebie sachet of Satin Sheen? Almost certainly not. If it is just about driving sampling, there are more effective, proven routes to reach the right audience.

So, what is my view? The technology is great - anything that gives us more insight into the consumer or prospect always is - but I am disappointed that we expect so much from a viewer and in return give so little. If we want them to make an effort, let's go beyond the free sample and give real reward for real expressed interest and effort. If the technology allows us to collect great information, let's use it for that.

The most interesting market insights are not my title (to that point, do they really care about how many doctors respond?) or the name at my address. Let's use the moment of touching the prospective customer to understand how to sell to them. How much do they spend on moisturisers each month? Which competitive products do they use at the moment? By the way, all this could be done via drop boxes for those with worn-out controls. Let's use this media to create sales opportunities, not technology for technology's sake.

Phil Nunn, the director of digital and direct at Manning Gottlieb OMD, doesn't bother with skin cream to keep himself young-looking.