GoldPocket Puts Products in Hot Spot

Oct 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

With product placement an increasingly significant option for marketers, interactive television technologist GoldPocket has begun talking to programmers, advertisers and distributors about its hotspotting technology that can be integrated into programs and that allows viewers to click on products in the show for more information.

Hotspotting technology refers to the ability to track objects in a video signal. Practically speaking, think of the timeworn example of clicking on Jennifer Aniston’s sweater to buy it. GoldPocket expects to assemble the moving parts into an actual deployment sometime in the first half of next year, said Joe Franzetta, executive VP of corporate development at GoldPocket.

“There are several networks and operators who are looking at deploying this technology in the very near future,” Mr. Franzetta said.

He said the capability has been in development for nearly eight years, but it’s ready now and is generating interest because of concerns about the effectiveness of traditional TV ads given the increasing use of digital video recorders. Also, major advertisers are pulling back on traditional TV spending and turning instead toward the Internet and product placement. GoldPocket’s goal is to leverage its interactive technology to keep dollars in TV through product placement, Mr. Franzetta said.

“If you are watching a soap and want to purchase something you see on the show, [such as] a couch, mirror, dress that was placed there through a product placement deal that the network did with the producer, [the viewer] can pick up the remote control and can scroll around and get more information on the products placed there and if they wish, they purchase it right there,” he said.

Agencies are interested in hotspotting, said David Ernst, executive VP and director of futures and technology for Initiative. “I think most of our advertisers would want to experiment in something like this,” he said, adding that hotspotting helps make the sales connection more immediate. The challenge is that advertisers have been hearing about the idea for several years, and it’s had more promise than performance, he said. “We haven’t seen it work so far, and we would love to see it work,” Mr. Ernst said.

In addition to real-time viewing, hotspotting can work in a time-shifted world through VOD and DVRs, Mr. Franzetta said. GoldPocket has synched up with video-on-demand vendor Concurrent to integrate its technologies, including hotspotting, into Concurrent’s product. Mr. Franzetta said he’s talking to other VOD server makers as well.

Getting the capability integrated into a VOD server is the starting point since the content has to reside on the VOD server, said Jack Birnbaum, director of product management for Concurrent. “From an advertiser’s point of view, their goal is to get interested parties to watch their ads. The hotspotting is a targeted ad, so now you know customers who are actually interested in the product [when they click on it],” he said.

GoldPocket will likely face some competition. Tech firm Avant Interactive has powered a number of hotspotting campaigns on the Web, such as for Coca-Cola and Honda, and plans to migrate its technology into TV, Avant President Dan Bates said.