Optimising Interactive VoD Advertising

Jon Block, ITV's Head of Commercial Innovation shares his tips on getting the best out of our VoD campaigns.

How to optimise interactive VOD advertising

There are two key challenges associated with interactive VOD advertising that I have become very familiar with over the last year. These are the passivity of the television viewer and the interstitial nature of VOD advertising. In this article I will explain these challenges and describe how we are addressing them.


TV advertising has historically been a very passive experience. Part of the challenge of creating successful interactive ads is therefore to educate the viewer that they can actually interact with the adverts – they won't bite and the viewer may find it a valuable experience! For this reason we've created a simple and memorable ‘interactive ad’ identity that we are using with our current trials.

This is a pulsing identity that appears in the top corner of the advert for a few seconds and lets the viewer know that they are able to interact with the ad. At the same time we've created an educational house ad (see the video) which explains what this symbol means. Eventually we hope to be able to remove the interactive ad text altogether and just leave the pulsing circle – similar to how the red button icon was used on broadcast TV.

Interstitial advertising

TV and VOD advertising is a form of interstitial advertising and the nature of this advertising is that it gets between you and the content you want to watch. This presents a tricky challenge when it comes to unlocking the potential for interactivity that these new platforms and devices provide.

In other words, if a viewer is in the middle of catching up on Coronation Street, would we expect them to stop and spend time interacting with an ad when they want to get back to the show they were watching? [It's worth pointing out that not all formats involve spending more time with the advert but the challenge to encourage viewers to interact with the advert is an important consideration whatever the format.]

Factors that help trigger viewers to interact with an ad:

  • Urgency - if the viewer doesn't act now they may lose the chance altogether

  • Unique benefits - is this ad going to provide something that the viewer wouldn't be able to get elsewhere?

  • Usefulness - is the experience going to be useful to the viewer?

  • Enjoyment - is the experience going to be enjoyable?

  • Novelty - is the experience new and exciting?

Generally the more of these triggers contained within an interactive creative, the better it performs.

Factors that act as a barrier to interaction:

  • Physical context - the viewer may be on the move or in a situation that doesn't lend itself to engagement with an ad

  • Social factors - several people together are less likely to want to all spend time interacting with an ad

  • Mood - the viewer normally has to be in the right frame of mind to want to interact with an ad

  • Task focus - is the viewer focused on something else?

  • Fear - after their experiences of aggressive popup ads during the early days of the web, people are still afraid of interacting with online advertising

  • Lack of clear benefits - a viewer is less likely to want to interact if they can't see any benefits to that interaction

Out of these it is only really the last two that we have any control over. We must be careful to craft a user experience that allays a viewer's fears and gives a clear indication of what will happen when they interact.

With all these factors in mind I believe it is possible to create really compelling creatives that encourage interaction. Our early trials are proving to be very successful and I expect to be able to tell you more about them in the near future...