Interactive Spots Put to a Test in L.A.

Mar 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A trio of local advertisers and one national marketer have agreed to share data on the effectiveness of interactive television advertising in the Los Angeles market.

The ad hoc partnership is one of the first examples of this level of collaboration between local and national marketers for new ad vehicles such as interactive TV.

A car dealer, a furniture supplier and an Indian casino, along with national advertiser JPMorgan Chase, plan to market their products using interactive television in Charter’s Los Angeles cable system, starting either this quarter or early next quarter.

They will share the results with each other and with industry representatives at the offices of the Carat media agency in New York in June. Carat’s Mitch Oscar, executive VP for digital, is shepherding the interactive buy on behalf of Chase.

The initiative injects fresh life into the interactive TV advertising market, which has been stalled lately. Cable and satellite operators have deployed pockets of interactive capability, but interactive ads have not taken off widely as a new ad form. However, interactive ads hold great promise for advertisers, as they are proven to engage viewers more deeply.

“Here we have a national agency like Carat working with local agencies to try to share information about a test that each is doing so we can grow the industry for ourselves, for Navic, for Charter,” Mr. Oscar said. Navic is the interactive TV technology powering the ads.

Last month Charter expanded the Navic rollout so that interactive ads can reach all of the system’s 300,000 digital customers, up from 60,000 previously, said Derek Hanson, VP of ad sales for Charter Media, west division. “As we scale the product we felt the necessity to scale the learnings,” he said.

In the Charter experiment, the advertisers want to learn whether consumers respond to interactive ads that let them request more information, jump to a longer-form video or ask for a brochure or coupon.

“If you do something and get a response, that’s great, and if you try something and don’t get a response, that’s great too, because we’re on a learning curve,” said Nick Castle, who runs the Nick Castle Agency in La Verne, Calif., and represents a local Nissan dealership that will run ads with multiple language options.

He’s used interactive ads for two years for both the Nissan dealership and an Infiniti dealership. Those spots have yielded a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in sales, he said.

Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif., will use interactive spots to urge viewers to click to view a two-minute video detailing the casino’s new promotion, said Bonnie Picker, executive director of marketing for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

The third advertiser is furniture maker Drexel Heritage, which also will encourage viewers to watch a long-form video on furniture design, said Neal Melden, president of the Melden & Melden ad agency in San Diego. “We’ll report back on why people respond, what channels work, what sort of dollar volume we get,” he said.