iTV Report: An A-Z of interactive TV

Don't know your HDTV from your dwell time? Jeremy Lee cuts through the interactive ad jargon

1. Affluent viewers

Ipsos research suggests digital viewers tend to be significantly younger and more upmarket than the average TV viewer.

2. Analogue signal

The traditional method of broadcasting TV signals, it has now been made obsolete by digital technology, which allows more channels and the opportunity to run interactive services and ads.

3. Attention span

Viewers have other pressures on their time, so it is important that once they have responded to the call-to-action and pressed the red button, they are kept happy while they wait for it to load. Ideally, the loading page should look and sound like the broadcast ad, have some value and tell the viewer what is happening.

4. Audience

Interactive advertising causes the audience to react; it can captivate and entertain them.

5. Audio

Too easily forgotten about in interactive ads, the use of audio is a compelling call-to-action, even for the most passive TV viewer. As with other aspects of making an interactive ad, careful consideration must be taken to ensure there is continuity between the linear ad and the interactive area.

6. Branding communication

When interactive advertising was launched five years ago, it was largely thought of as a response-driven mechanic, suitable for tactical advertising only. This is no longer the case. It has also proved its worth in delivering strategic messages for branding communication.

7. Broadcast stream

This is the traditional TV channel environment. When viewers press the red button, depending on the type of interactive campaign chosen, an overlay appears and they leave the broadcast stream.

8. Broadcasters

All of the main commercial broadcasters (Sky, ITV, Channel 4, five and the IDS channels) now offer interactive advertising services.

9. Brochures

While it is one of the most straightforward elements of an interactive TV campaign, providing brochures with further information is popular and cost-effective.

10. Boundaries

There are none; the creative possibilities are endless.

11. Call back

One of the most simple elements of an interactive TV campaign is where a viewer enters his phone number to request a call back from the advertiser at a convenient time.

12. Call-to-action

The name of the interactive icon overlay found on the corner of an interactive broadcast ad. It usually, but not always, says: "Press red for ..." Also known as the "trigger".

13. Case studies

There are numerous case studies that reveal the effectiveness of the various interactive advertising techniques. A good example is a Burkitt DDB/MindShare campaign for the Volvo S40 that used a DAL. Viewers who saw the interactive ad were ten times more likely to buy a model than those who just saw the linear TV ad.

14. Chemical Brothers

An interactive TV ad for the Chemical Brothers' Push the Button was the first to offer viewers the exclusive opportunity to hear some sample tracks from the new album via their TVs. This shows how interactive advertising can push back boundaries.

15. Chicken Tonight

A truly pioneering brand. In March 2000, Chicken Tonight became the first UK brand to run an interactive ad. Five years later, there are an average of 45 interactive campaigns each month.

16. Colour

What looks good on computer may not look good on TV. Colours can change dramatically on TV when encoded.

17. Competitions

Competitions are one of the most useful and entertaining ways of achieving response rates from viewers and encouraging them to input their personal data. Philips Sonicare is a good example: using a mini- DAL, 35,000 of the 500,000 people who clicked through to the interactive site entered a competition to win the product.

18. Content

Effective content must be designed for its specific use, ie. shared entertaining experience in the living room, often consumed from several metres away. The content should be viewer-centric and viewer-driven.

Weapon7's DAL for Honda enabled viewers to see Wieden & Kennedy's "cog" masterpiece in its entirety. It also produced results - more than a quarter-of-a-million viewers pressed red.

19. Content creation tools

There are a number of companies offering software tools for the creation of interactive ads - Press Red (Blackbox Designer), Chello (eTV Studio), Tamblin (I-Zone) and NDS (RapiAd) can be used for microsites and mini- DALs, while Open TV (Open TV Author), Emuse (Modelstream) and Ensequence (on-Q Create) offer tools to aid the creation of DALs.

20. Cost

The cost of running interactive ads has fallen dramatically over the past five years and an entry-level campaign can now cost as little as £5,000 for a four-week impulse-response campaign. Bandwidth, used in the high-end DALs, has never been cheaper, so there has never been a better time to run an interactive ad.

21. D&AD

This year, D&AD has introduced a category dedicated to excellence in interactive television. This marks the first time that agencies can compete for a prestigious D&AD award in the interactive TV arena.

22. DAL

Short for dedicated advertiser location. A content-rich interactive ad format that enables advertisers to provide a greater depth of product information interspersed with dramatic video content, audio content, textual information and a built-in response mechanism. Accessed by pressing the red button, the DAL has been described as "an advertiser's very own TV channel".

23. Data entry screens

These are the input fields that appear on the screen. The viewer can use the remote control to fill in their information. Multiple-choice/drop- down lines tend to work best.

24. Drop-down lists

A simple-to-use and popular technique that makes it easy for viewers to enter data about themselves.

25. Dwell time

The amount of time a viewer stays in the interactive environment.

26. Electronic programme guide

An on-screen guide that helps viewers navigate all channels. The Sky electronic programme guide contains details of all TV programmes to be aired over the following seven days, as well as listings for interactive services.

27. Enhanced television (ETV)

An interactive service directly related to a particular programme, which provides viewers with a means of interacting with that programme. Programme enhancements can include voting, competitions, quizzes and exclusive video footage.

28. Extended message

Good interactive TV copy should not only enhance the branding of a product, but also allow the viewer a longer look at the offer or product. In the case of Honda "cog", the extended message extended to 17 minutes, with the average dwell time of eight-and-a-half minutes.

29. Freebies

There are few things more likely to generate interest among target viewers than the opportunity to sample something for nothing.

30. Fulfilment

As with DRTV ads, there needs to be a competent fulfilment house to ensure information requested from the ad is sent out.

31. High-definition TV (HDTV)

HDTV will deliver a picture up to four times better in quality than standard-definition TV, and with superior sound. In short, it will make the TV viewing experience even more enjoyable.

32. Impulse response

A type of interactive ad. Viewers can interact with the brand while remaining in the broadcast stream. Interaction could include responding to offers, requesting a product sample or asking the advertiser to send more information or to call the viewer. The advertiser can choose up to nine questions for the viewer to respond to, such as e-mail address, dates or pick-lists.

33. Interactive advertising

In short, interactive advertising enables the viewer to respond to an ad by pressing the red button and finding information that cannot easily be transmitted via a traditional linear TV ad.

34. Interactive sponsorship

More and more programmes are adding an interactive element to enhance the content of the show. Programme sponsors can extend their association in the enhanced area. For example, a DIY company might sponsor a home- improvement show and viewers could press the red button to find where their nearest store is or even see what offers are available.

35. Jump-to-text

Viewers can press the red button during an ad to jump to a static page within a text service. The page can be in full colour and feature graphics and photo-quality stills. The programme audio usually continues to play in the background.

36. KIS

Keep it simple - the golden rule of interactive TV.

37. Linear advertising

The term used to refer to traditional spot advertising that remains within the broadcast stream.

38. Loading page

A holding screen that shows up after the viewer presses the red button, but before the application shows on-screen. Also known as the "transition".

39. Microsite

A type of interactive ad similar to impulse response. It is made up of an interactive overlay, with the TV playing in quarter-screen.

40. Mini-DAL

A scaled-down version of a DAL and an effective mechanism for brand extension and data capture. Mini-DALs allow the advertiser to choose from different templated formats that offer full-screen static pages or video in quarter-screen.

41. Navigation

The way that a viewer finds a path through the interactive application.

Viewers do not like text-heavy ads, preferring graphical directions, so a clear and simple navigation that is televisually rewarding is usually the most effective.

42. Platform

A TV distribution service comprising the entire infrastructure required to deliver TV channels to TV sets in the home. Sky is the only platform carrying all interactive ad formats and with the bandwidth for DALs.

43. Reach

Advertisers can now reach more than 19 million individuals in 7.6 million Sky homes, so interactive advertising has never been more cost- effective or wide-reaching.

44. Red button

The red button on the set-top box remote control is the gateway to interactive ads and using the wealth of interactive services.

45. Research data

Sky Media produces response reports for each campaign, through which response rates can be calculated. Neither Barb nor DDS offer interactive TV advertising measurements. There are a number of other research projects that can be set up by the TV airtime sales house or ZiP TV.

46. Return paths

The method by which a viewer communicates with a broadcaster when using an interactive service, thereby enabling full two-way interactivity. In satellite homes, this is the modem within the set-top box, which is connected to the viewer's telephone line.

47. Scale

Scale should be considered when creating TV applications. The design is completed on a PC and then viewed from a TV - usual viewing is ten feet away.

48. Set-top box

The piece of kit that allows you to interact with an interactive service. Viewers need to attach this box to unscramble digital television signals and convert them into sound and pictures.

49. Sky Interactive

The wholly owned Sky subsidiary that is responsible for providing interactive ad solutions, creating enhanced TV services and producing standalone interactive TV solutions, such as Sky Active, for advertisers.

50. Sky Media

The media sales arm of BSkyB. It sells advertising opportunities across all of Sky's wholly owned channels, including Sky One, Sky Sports and Sky Movies. In addition, Sky Media also sells advertising opportunities on behalf of media partner channels such as Discovery Networks and Emap.

51. Speed of response

The time it takes to go into the interactive application or for the information to come up on-screen. As quick a response as possible is key.

52. Storyboard

Sketching a storyboard is vital to help think through and map out every element, experience and outcome that you want to achieve.

53. Testing

Not just of interactivity, but also of the interactive application. Ads need to be tested to ensure that they work properly, so viewers can navigate around them easily.

54. Text services

Digital text ads are more sophisticated and visually more appealing than their analogue counterparts. Traditionally, they are used for short, text-based offers.

55. The making of ...

This is a useful way of extending a 30-second TV ad and engaging audiences within an interactive ad by showing how the commercial was made. Adidas was the first advertiser to use the technique, with an ad featuring the England sporting heroes David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson practising their kicking.

56. Time lengths

Experts say the linear TV ad needs to be at least 20 seconds long to be effective and encourage people to sample the interactive application.

57. Usability

The success of interactive advertising is determined by its usability. Make it obvious - if the user doesn't get it, then they won't do it.

58. Vouchers

People like to be rewarded for visiting an interactive ad and vouchers, along with samples, are one of the most successful fulfilment offers and generate higher response rates.

59. ZiP TV

A consortium of advertisers that have launched their own interactive advertising platform.