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Can Interactive Advertising Really Work with Long-Form Content?

  17 January, 2013

Interactive AdvertisingInteractive and non-interactive ads are similar to the two most common types of single people. Interactive ads behave like someone who’s looking for a relationship, where the focus is more on having a deeper level of engagement, sharing and perhaps a meaningful exchange of some sort. Whereas non-interactive are a little more slutty, interested only in fleeting, casual relationships — the most you can hope for is a ‘call me’ or ‘let’s connect on Facebook’ on their way out.

For brand advertisers and consumers, the more relationship-friendly, interactive kind are a more attractive option, at least when offered at scale and at the right price. Technology is also pushing advertising in a more interactive direction, with voice, gesture and the second screen all helping to make the experience of engaging with ads more convenient and interesting for consumers. The lines between brand and direct response advertising are also being blurred slightly, as things like data-driven advertising and the ubiquity of ecommerce increase the chances of an ad leading to an immediate conversion, even when it comes to the most banal of FMCG products.

But interactive ads can be problematic when served alongside long-from content, or at least when that content is being shared with others. Things aren’t so bad on PC, tablet and mobile, where the viewer is more likely to be watching alone. But on the living room TV the chances of the likelihood of others being present increases, as does the chance of someone having their programme, movie or ad break disrupted if someone decides to engage with an ad. So, for example, if Dad is using the TV screen to check out what he hopes will be his next car, it seems reasonable to assume the rest of the family are likely to drift out of the room or on to other devices. Whereas if Dad is less selfish, the opportunity for engagement could be missed.

Does one man’s engagement have to be another woman’s disrupted content?

In the industry’s attempts to find a solution and to compete with the interactivity offered alongside short-form content, we’ve seen a number of innovative ad formats and new technologies introduced, including:

(a) The second screen is the most obvious solution. While the first generation of second screen apps have a long list of critics and doubters, the second screen is something that’s going to gain significantly more traction when its incorporated into tablet and mobile-based TV remotes.

(b) Rather than having a call to take immediate action, the engagement could be deferred. A good example of this is the ‘green button advertising’ currently employed by some of the leading broadcasters. The viewer is given the option of pressing the green button on their remote when text saying something along the lines of ‘remind me – view extra footage’ appears in the top-right corner while they’re viewing a TV ad. That way the additional advertising content is safely stored and the flow of the content/ad break is preserved for everyone else in the room. The person who wants to engage further can then go back to that content at a more convenient time.

(c) Limiting the level of interactivity is another option, so if a user wants to look at additional info about a car for example, you might allow them to look at a limited number of concisely presented specs, photos, and pricing options. That way it doesn’t take too long for the user to return to the content or the rest of the ads in the ad load.

(d) Splitting the screen is another possible option, at least on larger TV screens, where the ad is shown on one side and the content continues to run on the other.

(e) Although it’s early days and too hard to tell whether it’s going to take off, Samsung’s Multi-View – which enables different people to view different things on the same screen – might be an answer. While wearing glasses and earphones to watch TV might seem ridiculous today (3D – anyone?), with Google Glass and wearable computing on the near horizon, you might soon be entering your living room already wearing a pair of glasses capable equipped with Multi-View capability. In case you missed it, here’s a demo:

A great example of an innovative and interactive ad format is Brainient’s Kinect-enabled ads for the Hobbit. Here Brainient CEO Emi Gal gives a demonstration we filmed last year:

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