British Red Cross to make interactive ad first for C4

The British Red Cross charity is the first ever advertiser to use a new Channel 4 interactive TV service that will allow viewers to make donations and transactions while watching a TV ad, Revolution can reveal.

Channel 4's new ad format will let users make a cash transaction on-screen while watching the broadcast ad. This is unlike existing interactive TV ads, which either require users to log on to a stand-alone interactive shopping section or make a call to a promotional number.

Only available to viewers watching Channel 4 or the E4 channel via the Sky digital platform, users will be able to press the red button during the ads and enter credit card or debit card details into an overlay at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, viewers will be able to shrink the broadcast TV ad to one quarter of the screen and complete the transaction.

The service, which has been developed in conjunction with Sony's stand-alone interactive TV agency GOiNTERACTtv, builds on Channel 4's existing iTV ad service which was launched in January 2002 with a campaign for Renault Clio.

Following the roll-out of the three-week campaign with The British Red Cross, Merlin Inkley, head of airtime management at Channel 4, confirmed that the service would be offered to previous advertisers, which include BUPA, Powergen and SAAB.

"We'd had a lot of interest from direct response advertisers," said Inkley, who added that the broadcaster was looking at whether it would use the service to allow users to immediately purchase DVDs or merchandise for TV series during its normal end of credits slot.

Although the service has already gone live on the Sky platform, Inkley said that the transactional service was unlikely to roll out over other cable or terrestrial-based interactive platforms, such as ntl or the BBC-backed Freeview.

"I'd love it if it was ready, but it's not yet," said Inkley. "The problem we are having is terrestrial. Freeview will be on air, but the box does not have return path services."