Making ads interactive on television

Set top boxes give advertisers two-way communication into the living rooms across the nation and people are starting to explore the nascent medium.

e4m by Gopal Sathe
Updated: Feb 14, 2011 7:33 AM
Making ads interactive on television

“Advertising on television has a lot of advantages, but despite the introduction of set top boxes (STBs) for cable and DTH, there has been little innovation in the technology behind it,” remarked Kallol Borah, CEO and founder of Lukup, a new company which aims to change this fact.

Lukup is a product which interfaces with DTH and other STBs for MSOs like Hathaway and InCable to allow an interactive commercial to be aired over the television channels. Much like the active services offered on DTH platforms, a Lukup-enabled ad will come with a hotspot, which requires the user to press a button on their remote to activate the interactive ad content.

This can come in many forms – like a banner at the bottom of a screen, offering special deals for example, or a full screen capture with multiple options allowing a greater degree of interactivity. And because it is completely optional, Borah feels that it will be seen as a value addition to the process.

Lukup is not the only company leveraging the communication possibilities of DTH. Vineet Kumar, Head of CRM and Loyalty Programs, Homeshop18, said, “We are available on DishTV, Airtel, Reliance and Airtel IPTV, and we try and engage with those customers in different ways. For example, we have a floating window which they can activate and which has special offers, we run other special offers for people on different carriers and offer deals of the day which they can choose to activate.”

The key is to get user engagement through interaction.

Borah said, “Using our technology, we can make TV spots as interactive as a website. This can then be targetted according to the channel, time and location of the audience, so you could run a campaign which is local or national, we handle all that for you. All the technology is in place, so we can offer a great new format without causing any inconvenience to the users.”

He further said, “Different companies all make different set top boxes and so for any brand to tackle this channel, there are a lot of technical problems, but we create a single solution across the board. So, the agency has to focus on the creative aspect, and for example, we can create an ad for financial services. Now, it runs as a 10-second spot like any other ad, but there is a hotspot and so if you are interested in the product, say an auto insurance ad, you press a button and there is a page which shows you how to get information on the Internet, shows you some details of the product, and even gives you a button you can press to give your phone number and request a callback from the advertiser, then my insurance ad has gone from a 10-second spot to a full interaction with an engaged customer.”

With a reach of around 20 million homes on DTH, these new services offer a combination of TV and online formats, and according to Borah, there are already over 15 major brands that are signed on with Lukup, while Kumar also shared that Homeshop18 has seen a very positive response to their initiative as well.

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