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Carat Convenes iTV Think Tank

Jan 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Daisy Whitney

Advertising Age

Media agency Carat USA has created a think tank to brainstorm the next generation of interactive-TV-ad models before they hit the small screen.

The group, hatched through the newly formed Carat Digital division, includes Carat advertisers, media researchers and interactive-TV-technology vendors. Carat clients will get a chance to participate in developing interactive-TV-ad models from the start.

Because digital video recorder users skip 92 percent of the ads, according to Forrester Research, many advertisers and agencies are increasingly interested in experimenting with emerging media forms, such as video-on-demand and interactive TV, to reach consumers as their viewing patterns change. DVRs are found in 3 percent to 4 percent of homes today and should infiltrate 10 percent within 18 months and 41 percent within five years, Forrester said.

“I am terribly passionate about technology and particularly interactive TV technology,” said David Verklin, CEO, Carat Americas. “It represents an unbelievable opportunity for advertisers to target advertising with less waste.”

The problem, though, is that interactive TV programs and ads that have been created without advertiser input haven’t always worked well, said Mitch Oscar, executive VP of Carat Digital.

The group, the Carat Digital Interactive Television Exchange, includes executives from various divisions of Carat; Carat clients such as Marriott, JPMorgan Chase, New Line Entertainment and Pfizer; cable programmer Turner Broadcasting; audience-measurement firm erinMedia; customer relationship marketing firm Epsilon; and Forrester Research. Technology providers, including navigation company MetaTV, interactive TV firm GoldPocket, VOD software company N2 Broadband and Invidi, which offers addressable advertising tools, will present their solutions at each meeting.

Mr. Oscar spearheaded a similar initiative in 2001 when he worked at Universal McCann to share best practices for interactive TV. Today, however, new media technology has evolved significantly and deployed widely enough for advertisers to begin investing real money.

Carat is one of a handful of media agencies exploring emerging media forms on TV. Starcom MediaVest’s Tim Hanlon, the agency’s senior VP and director for emerging contacts, has become an outspoken advocate for increasing advertiser presence in venues such as VOD, enhanced TV and addressable ads, as long as the usage data is made available for those media.

His counterpart on the MediaVest side is Adam Gerber, who heads new Internet and TV initiatives as senior VP and group director for MediaVest USA. Mediaedge:cia in New York built an interactive lab that it uses as a show-and-tell room to demonstrate to clients the advertising opportunities in VOD, interactive TV and sync-to-broadcast applications.

The agency has executed more advanced TV campaigns this year than in the three years leading up to it, in part because the studio allows clients to see and understand new applications, said Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications.