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PVRs offer huge opportunities, say advertisers

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CANNES: The present and the future, it is difficult to figure out which is which, at MIPTV 2005. And that's because technologies are driving change in the business at such a fast clip that whether discussions are forward looking or placed in the current context, they sound similar to a great extent.

Tuesday's session 'Interactive Advertising, Current Successes and Opportunities in the On-Demand World' rather than looking at the ad zapper devices (Tivo again) in doomsday terms focused on the opportunities new technologies such as these offered.

Featured speaker BSkyB head of interactive services Robert Leach pointed out that the demise of TV advertising had been announced thrice before the advent of PVRs (first when remotes made their entry, then the VCR and after that when the Internet arrived). Leach saw the scenario in terms of a decline in the traditional 30-second spot template to increasingly interactive forms of advertising.

"PVR offers a big challenge but also a huge opportunity through the pause button," Leach said.

According to Leach, studies have shown that viewers introduced to brands through interactive brands were far more likely to indicate purchase interest (a 44 per cent rise in response compared to non-viewers).

Honda UK marketing communications manager Mathew Coombe highlighted the gains from the highly successful Honda Diesel "Hate Something Change Something campaign, which featured a 'sing-along' theme tune, as an example of how well this concept can work if developed properly. The ad was created for Honda by Zip Television, a specialist independent interactive TV company (whose managing director Andrew Howell was also on the panel).

A point that was made was that the communication efforts needed to be towards branded content experience for the consumer. The advantage to the advertiser is that such ads were much more accountable/ measurable in terms of deliveries though it was also stated that genuine rewards don't have to be tangible but could be termed a success from an experiential sense as well.

One point made by Leach was rather disturbing though, and not just for UK's TV audience measurement system Broadcasters Audience Research Board (Barb) but raises privacy issues as well.

Leach said Sky is setting up a panel of 20,000 (selected from their subscriber base who would presumably benefit in some way for allowing the intrusion) which will be the largest in the world that would with much more accuracy allow for audience profiling in terms of who watches what and why as also viewers lifestyle choices (every advertisers dream data bank).

Big brother will be watching more and more seems to be the underlying message here.

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