ITV Additional: Interactive Ad Lab

ITV’s digital wizards were getting hands-on in the Interactive Ad Lab at Ad Week on Wednesday to explore the latest multi-screen innovations.

Jon Block, Controller of Commercial Digital Products, and Jia Zhuang, Senior Commercial Innovation Manager, provided the audience in the Newsroom Studio with iPads and told them: “We’re going to be experimenting on you. This is going to be a second-screen presentation and we expect you to play along!”

The pair set out to show us how TV advertising has become interactive, why TV is the best medium for participation, and what makes great interactive creative – with 300 to 400 interactive campaigns every year.

They looked at three main areas: second screen ads, reactive broadcast ads that change moments before broadcast, and interactive advertising.

Jon started by demonstrating one of his biggest failures – we’ll spare the details – suffice it to say, it was the breakdown of a profanity filter back in 2010.

However, there have also been some great successes, including the X Factor app, played by 2.62 million people a total of 37.7 million times during the last series, up from 1.5 million the year before. 

The audience was asked to experience second-screening, playing an Aunt Bessie’s game on the iPads, attempting to drop Yorkshire puddings onto a dinner plate, and a Domino’s game, trying to stop birds from eating their pizza. 

Jia talked about the potential of interactive VOD, such as an EE ad, which ran a 10 second broadcast spot followed by a 20 second interactive environment, which gained a 12 per cent interaction rate. “What’s really interesting about this is it’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said. 

The pair went on to discuss why television is the best medium for participation. “It’s the full screen experience, it’s video, it’s audio, it’s storytelling,” said Jia. “We’ve been doing this for 50 years and we’ve been able to establish a pattern of behaviour that allows us to inject adverts in between content.” 

Perhaps that explains why ITV’s Ad Sync has been wildly successful in terms of click through and engagement rates.

Jon said: “We’ve seen click through rates on Ad Sync of up to 37.5 per cent, which is absolutely astounding.”

The pair set out three things which drive audience participation on television – calls to action; low barriers to entry; and amazing perceived value.

The audience is looking for certain things when they’re being asked to participate; sharing, discovery, enhancements, rewards, making a contribution, and getting closer to the content.

We were shown a Citroen interactive ad which saw a unique interaction rate of 39 per cent and a recent Virgin Media creative saw a 78 per cent interaction rate. 

One of the keys is to ‘create a mini conversion funnel’, Jon explained, but also to keep it simple.

“The first Domino’s ad we ran, we were so excited by it, it had six different levels, all sorts of things, but it wasn’t actually as successful as the subsequent more simple game,” explained Jon.

Advertisers may not even be aware of all the features that are available to them – which could create stand-out from the crowd. Jon said: “Not everybody knows what we can do with your creative campaigns. It can make the difference between someone paying attention and someone ignoring it.”

At the end of the session, the audience was invited to meet ITV’s digital gurus and talk to them about what could be achieved for their brand – and what the future might hold for interactive advertising.

“The click-through rates are just unheard of with this kind of advertising,” said Jon.

You can catch up on this session here.