The way we consume media has changed drastically over the past 20 years and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that huge cable companies such as Comcast Spotlight are utilizing new technologies to connect advertisers with their users. Comcast has developed Interactive TV (iTV) capabilities which are available in approximately 16 million homes. This new technology allows advertisers to utilize interactive prompts or “overlays” to appear across their ads when they run. Upon seeing these overlays, a viewer can chose to learn more about a specific product by a simple push of their remote control. It’s technologies like this that allow advertisers to interact with customers that have shown interest in their product and/or services.
When the end goal is to raise awareness on a certain issue or change behaviors – iTV technology can work wonders for non-profits. Upon discovering Comcast’s TV capabilities, The Ad Council partnered with Comcast and explored going beyond just running 30-second spots. iTV allowed us the opportunity to increase the effectiveness of our campaigns and make a larger impact.
Two examples of how we’ve utilized iTV is our initiatives for Request for Information (RFI) supporting AdoptUSKids and Telescoping supporting Feeding America. The Ad Council utilized RFI to raise awareness on foster care adoption. There are currently 107,000 children in the foster care system waiting for a family. We worked with Comcast Spotlight to layer RFI technology onto our existing PSAs. Upon viewing the PSA, an overlay appeared allowing users to use their remote and select to receive more information. Upon selecting yes, the viewer’s information was entered into the state-level adoption application process – and a few weeks later they received a start-up information package in the mail. We ran the campaign across 30 markets and received a total of 2,415 leads – with a 0.02% lead rate. Considering the message was asking viewers to receive more information about the lifelong responsibility of adopting a child, these results were astonishing. We’re moving forward with a new RFI campaign for 2012 which will focus on our Making Home Affordable – Foreclosure Prevention campaign.
The Ad Council is also currently utilizing Comcast’s Telescoping technology for our Feeding America – Hunger Prevention campaign. Telescoping refers to an interactive prompt or “overlay” on a TV spot that directly links viewers to On Demand content by pressing select on their remote control. Qualified consumers can quickly and easily view long form video and gather more in depth information about a product or service. This allows advertisers to tell their story beyond the confines of a :30 second spot. Telescoping presented an engaging opportunity for Feeding America – one of the largest non-profits raising awareness on hunger in the United States. We provided Comcast with several 2 minute long form videos which featured real stories from everyday people that are impacted from hunger. When the overlay appears, the viewers have the option of viewing the video “Now,” “Later” or “On Demand.” If they do not have the time to watch it right at that current moment – they can save it and watch it later in their own time. These long-form videos will allow viewers to create a deeper understanding of the issue and become more compelled to give to a food bank. We’ve been running the telescoping campaign since March 2012 and so far 16,541 viewers have selected to view the videos (0.06% interaction rate). We’re thrilled to know that so many people saw our PSA and were intrigued to learn more. This most definitely resulted in an increased awareness of the hunger issue in America and we are so grateful that Comcast provided this opportunity for us.
Not only is Comcast Spotlight running our PSAs – they are also developing and testing emerging technologies that further engage users to think about their choices and make a difference. Advertising is increasingly becoming much more than a :30 spot on TV. With new emerging technologies like iTV and advanced internet capabilities – consumers are more engaged as ever. If difficult issues like Adoption and Hunger Prevention can generate so many leads, think about what it could do for other products and services that are trying to reach consumers with purchasing intent? This technology is perfect for automotive or restaurant advertisers. Old mediums like TV and Radio will need to stay ahead of the curve by developing new technologies to keep the viewer in control and also engaged. As media consumption patterns shift so do the way viewers look at advertising. In order to stay relevant, media companies need to provide advertisers with new ways to provide engaging messages to their viewers. With products like Comcast’s iTV, this is now possible.