New York cable TV operator Cablevision Systems Corp said on Tuesday it is rolling out a service to enable subscribers to interact with commercials by clicking on their remote controls.
The cable company is hoping to boost advertising revenue with the premium-priced interactive service that marketers can use to reach cable viewers, who click the 'select' button to receive product samples and brochure information.
There'll be a premium for making this interactivity available to advertisers, said David Kline, president of Cablevision's advertising sales group.
Kline declined to give the expected revenue premium on interactive advertising, but said advertisers will be happy to pay.
Unlike traditional television ads, the interaction gives the ability to know which viewers are interested in a product or service a feature for which advertisers usually pay a significant premium, he said.
The first advertiser to use the new Optimum Select service will be paint brand Benjamin Moore, which will send a coupon for a free two-ounce color sample if the cable subscriber requests it.
U.S. cable companies have been trying similar requests-for-information services but Cablevision is expanding and updating the service with an ad overlay screen that pops up during a commercial and asks if the viewer wants more information about the product. It does this without leaving the live TV show that the subscriber might be watching.
Cablevision also plans to allow subscribers to save extended video clips of commercials such as movie trailers. Eventually, it hopes to offer e-commerce capability so users can order products directly from the TV without leaving their sofas.
Cable companies bet that if advertisers can reach subscribers when they are interested in the information, it should mean the cable platform will start to be seen as having some of the advantages of immediacy offered by Web services like Google Inc's search engine advertising platform.
The interactive ads also raise the possibility that the cable industry could share more of the direct marketing budgets of marketers and brands that have traditionally used direct mail and email to reach their customers.
The industry is also working on a joint interactive advertising platform so national advertisers can offer interactive advertisements simultaneously across the United States.
The venture called Canoe, is backed by other cable companies including Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc. It is headed by former advertising executive David Verklin but is yet to formally launch any major campaigns.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)