A new service has been developed for advertisers which can direct the consumer to the company’s website while they are watching a TV advert.
The new technology comes in the wake of a recently concluded nationwide survey in the United States by TNS Media Intelligence, which showed that online advertising there rose by 60 per cent to about $10 billion (Dh36.7bn) between 2003 and 2006, while TV adverts increased only 20 per cent to $68bn during the same period.
Advertisers have leaned towards the internet in part because search engine providers such as Google offer targeted advertising opportunities and provide detailed data on the number of people who click through adverts.
The television industry, meanwhile, has come under growing pressure to provide more accountability, especially with the growing popularity of advert-skipping devices such as TiVo.
Now, a new technology provider, Backchannelmedia, contends that its technology has the ability to undermine Google’s growing grip on advertising dollars because it can send people directly to the website they are lookig for while watching their favourite programmes on TV, skipping search engines entirely, said founder Michael Kokernak.
During an initial launch, the US-company tested a new technology that allows viewers to use their remote controls to bookmark internet sites and products that are featured on TV so they can check them out later on their computers.
In future versions, Backchannelmedia expects viewers will be able to purchase the products and services they view during their favourite TV shows and commercial breaks.
“This is a solution for adverts to get an immediate result from television and not just rely on Nielsen ratings,” said Bill Fine, General Manager of WCVB. “We are interested to see how quickly the marketplace can adapt and how quickly consumers will embrace the nology.”
Backchannelmedia is launching a pilot scheme in 100 homes and plans to add about 10,000 households in the Boston area during the year-long market trial.
Viewers in these homes will see newscasts and commercials that feature icons, such as a shopping cart or a down arrow for downloads, on the lower right corner of the screen.
The initial 100 participants will be friends and family of employees of the two companies, and a market research firm is helping to identify other households as the project grows.
If they are interested, viewers can click on the icons and a box provided by Backchannelmedia and it will transfer the clicks to a consumer portal where viewers can find a list of all the saved downloads and websites, such as a list of weather details.
“The technology is really exciting. What they are doing is bringing TV into the future and giving advertisers a better gauge to see how the ad is working,” said Prashant Bhaumik, a senior programmer in an information technology company based in the Dubai Internet City.
Unlike some current efforts by cable companies and satellite providers to increase interactivity with consumers, Backchannelmedia’s technology does not take viewers away from the programmes – instead it allows people to check out content that appeals to them on their own schedule.
Meanwhile, Backchannelmedia’s server simultaneously sends a click-through report to the advertisers so they can keep track of the success of their commercials.
Ranjit Kumar, CEO and media strategist of Turning Point advertising firm, said: “Backchannel has the potential to slow the migration of ad spent to the internet, particularly for TV stations.”
If the pilot programme is successful, Backchannelmedia will talk with cable and direct broadcast satellite providers to get its software downloaded into multichannel video boxes, in addition to the digital market, so that a separate box would not be required and the technology would be available on multiple channels.
“A lot of advertisers are already using adverts to push people to the web that’s why you see the inclusion of website addresses in every ad, be it a print ad or TV ad, so this could make it one step easier,” said Ranjit.
Pilot for TV web advert service