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DirecTV Hawkeyes Interactive Spots

May 14, 2007  •  Post A Comment

On the eve of the biggest television advertising sales market, satellite-TV provider DirecTV has learned that its viewers are responding to interactive ads about 11 percent of the time, exponentially higher than the response rate for Internet ads.

That’s a potentially powerful piece of data that the satellite provider plans to take to Madison Avenue to rebut questions about the effectiveness of TV advertising. It might also help the television industry counter claims that ad-skipping technologies spell the demise of the traditional commercial spot and that the Web is a more accountable medium to track consumer reaction to ads.

Satellite and cable providers have both experimented with interactive ad features in the past few years as a hook to keep viewers more engaged with commercials. Until now, data on such ads has been limited, especially because cable trials usually occur in only one or two markets.

While satellite is lagging behind cable in some areas, interactivity has been a bright spot for satellite providers. DirecTV can sell an interactive spot across the more than 9 million of its customers’ homes that boast interactive boxes. The satellite provider has been offering interactive ads since 2005, but only started measuring consumer responsiveness to them last month via a deal with measurement firm TNS Media Research. The numbers from TNS represent one of the most comprehensive sets of data on the effectiveness of interactive ads.

DirecTV is currently running interactive spots from a handful of advertisers, including Chrysler, Procter & Gamble and Bank of America. The TNS study reported that 11 percent of viewers who saw an interactive spot clicked on their remotes for more information via a long-form ad. Once there, viewers spent about two and a half minutes interacting with the long-form spot, about the full length of the spots, said Bob Riordan, senior VP of ad sales at DirecTV.

By contrast, Internet ads generate click-through rates ranging from 0.74 percent for some video ads to 0.1 percent for image ads, according to online ad metric firm DoubleClick. Most direct-response mail ads generate low single-digit response rates.

“Our pitch to advertisers is as simple as this: We are offering enhanced television so our subscribers can spend more time with your brand beyond the 30-second spot,” Mr. Riordan said.

DirecTV counts 16.2 million total customers and is converting about 75,000 to 100,000 each month to interactive boxes.

The DirecTV data from April can serve as a benchmark for gauging the effectiveness of interactive TV ads, said George Shababb, chief operating officer for TNS.

“It serves to demonstrate that television is a very effective medium for engaging viewers and getting them to respond to advertising,” he said. The numbers come from a sample of 2.5 million households.

Such data is useful for advertisers as a starting point, but more information is needed, such as what motivates viewers to respond to an ad and how many of those responses convert into purchases, said Mitch Oscar, executive VP of digital at Carat.

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