In order to squeeze more money from a slumping ad market, Cablevision Systems Corp. aims to use interactive commercials by showing interactive advertising to about three million digital-television customers next month, becoming the first U.S. cable operator to do so.
Customers will use remote controls to click on banners at the bottom of their screens during commercials and get coupons or free samples of products by mail- so don’t worry- the feature won’t interrupt programs.
The six largest cable companies, including Cablevision, created Canoe Ventures last year to introduce similar ads nationally. The effort was hampered by the technological limitations of older set-top boxes and privacy concerns, leading Canoe to suspend trials of its first product in June.
Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable provider, and Time Warner Cable Inc., its smaller rival, are gradually testing and debuting targeted advertising. In April, Time Warner Cable started “promotions on-demand.” The offering allows Time Warner viewers to click on an ad and go to an on-demand channel dedicated to the product.
Cablevision got a jump on the rest of the industry in March, when it said it had begun testing of a new targeting technology. It can route ads to specific households based on demographic data, such as income, gender and ethnicity. Cablevision will be the first cable company to unveil interactive banner ads to its entire service area.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Benjamin Moore paint company is one of the first advertisers to sign on according to reports. When viewers see Benjamin Moore’s ad, they can push the select button on their remote control and get a free two-ounce color sample. The ads will appear on at least 25 cable networks.
By the end of this year, Cablevision plans to expand the effort, letting customers click on an ad to see movie like trailers for a product. By next year, customers will also have the ability to buy products via their television sets. Cablevision declined to comment what premium advertisers will have to pay for the interactive features.