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Vid�otron moves on new iTV ad app
11/1/2004

 
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Vid�otron Lt�e
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MONTREAL - Vid�otron lt�e and etc.tv today announced that the two Canadian companies will co-operate on a new interactive television advertising application for digital cable.

Calling it a "ground-breaking interactive television advertising application," etc.tv, "Canada's Advertising on Demand Network, is a revolutionary interactive advertising application which leverages digital television infrastructures to enable advertisers to more fully engage interested consumers with compelling content," says the press release.

The etc.tv network is a cross-platform, standardized business model developed in the Media Experts iTV Lab which leverages the video on demand environment to allow Canadian television "viewsers" (viewers/users) access to long form advertisements (LFAs), on demand. Media Experts is Canada's tenth largest media buying company and created its iTV Lab in 2000 to understand, explore, and experiment in interactive television.

The system, which will be six or seven months in testing - with a planned rollout sometime in the summer of 2005 - is a form of permission-based marketing where, when a consumer sees an ad, an icon will pop up with a request to direct the viewser to more content.

While systems like these have already been deployed to little success so far (see: Wink), the etc.tv model is different in that when consumers go interactive from the commercial, they access not static Internet-like type and images, but digital video - long-form, program-style advertising (think Ford's "No Boundaries", Burger King's "Chicken Fight" or Reebok's "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker").

"It's a telescopic ad application that takes you to more video and not an alphanumeric, Internet-type application," says Ian MacLean, vice-president and general manager of etc.tv.

Until now, most of the long-form ad content that companies developed was made available on the Internet, but it's more difficult to get people to view ads on their PCs - even entertaining ones. They're not as eager to view ads on a machine made for work and the consumer connection can often sabotage proper viewing.

Advertisers are tired of the "spray and pray" approach to mass-market advertising and want more direct ways to get to consumers and to measure their investment, says MacLean. If consumers are using their own initiative to click through the initial commercial on a channel to the extra content (like a half-hour cooking show linked to a soup ad, for example), the buyers know the campaign is working - and who to market to, since etc.tv will track the data.

"It's an invitation-based model as opposed to an intrusion-based model," adds MacLean.

"Reaching and holding consumer attention is one of the major challenges confronting advertisers in the evolving digital television environment," said Robert D�patie, Vid�otron's president and CEO, in the release. The etc.tv system, "leverages the unique video on demand (VOD) capability of our two-way digital network to allow viewers to link from thirty second commercials directly to long form television advertising content."

"Etc.tv allows Canadian broadcast distribution undertakings to participate in new advertising revenue streams while offering their digital subscribers compelling features, benefiting all stakeholders in the television value chain," adds the release.

An issue yet to be nailed down is the revenue split. With buyers still placing their ads with broadcasters, but MSOs using their pay-per-view and VOD servers to store and transmit the additional content, how will the money be divided?

While declaring etc.tv is meant to be a partnership with advertisers, broadcasters and cable companies, the who-gets-what-part-of-which-dollar is still something to be negotiated, says MacLean.

"Today's announcement signals the beginning of a new era in television advertising in Canada," added Mark Sherman, president of etc.tv. "We are ushering in a new era in which the consumer is increasingly in control of both entertainment and advertising consumption. Logically focused, digital technologies can unleash as yet unrealized potential in television advertising. Etc.tv has been designed specifically to bring increased value to viewsers, distributors, broadcasters and the engine of the commercial television model; Canada's advertisers."
 
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