Advanced Ads: Interactive Panelists Wonder When Scale Will Arrive

New York -- Interactive TV advertising remains challenged by limited scale, panelists agreed during a discussion Thursday at Advanced Advertising: Profiting from a Targeted Audience.

That was about the only clear point of consensus during a vigorous and varied conversation moderated by Jeff Baumgartner, technology editor of Multichannel News.

Jonathan Bokor, senior VP and director of advanced media for MediaVest, said social platforms -- especially Twitter and Facebook -- had distinguished themselves as far broader and more capable than any interactive TV platform.

"That's where the scale and the activity is," he said. "It's hard to bring a lot of dollars to a limited-scale platform."

At Baumgarter's prompting, Time Warner Cable's Sean Coar invoked the tracks laid by Canoe, which has set out to create a universal and scalable ad effort. "I see a lot of ex-Canoe faces in the crowd and I want to thank you for all your hard work," said Coar, group VP of strategy and business decisions for TWC. As for the current landscape, he added, "for us, if someone is able to choose the content they want and when they experience it, that qualifies as interactivity."

Perspectives on the nature and potential of interactive TV varied widely given the panel's makeup. Speaking as a programmer, Turner senior VP of ad sales and sports research Howard Schimmel, for instance, volunteered that he has been "painfully disappointed by smart TV."

Arris VP of advertising market development John Boland asked, "Even Roku?"

"Yes," Schimmel said, adding that in general "interfaces are lacking."

Bokor countered that his household is "big on Roku."

Shimmel later noted the variation in research about second-screen platforms. "You really see in tests how differently people engage with these different apps," he said. "It's a similar story overall with the interactive TV experience as a whole."