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Cablevision: Interactive TV Ads Work Very Well

Cablevision Systems is touting results from its first interactive TV ad campaigns last fall, claiming that conversion rates -- the percentage of viewers who, after initially clicking on an ad, successfully requested the advertiser's product sample or coupon -- ranged from 40% to more than 70%.

However, it remained unclear whether Cablevision will provide third-party auditing of the Optimum Select interactive ad service to verify the MSO's claimed results. A company spokeswoman said the operator has not disclosed whether it will provide such services.

Additionally, Cablevision did not disclose how many viewers clicked on the initial interactive spots.

The New York-area cable operator's Optimum Select interactive advertising service lets advertisers run a request for information (RFI) in local 30-second ad spots, accessible to Cablevision's 2.9 million digital-cable subscribers by pressing the "SEL" button on their remote. Among the first advertisers to buy into the service were Unilever, Gillette, Benjamin Moore and department store chain Century 21.

The conversion rate for leads ranged from 40% to more than 70% for the most recent Colgate-Palmolive campaign, the operator said. Cablevision defines the conversion rate as the percentage of consumers who, after pushing the "SEL" button in response to the commercial, completed the process by again pressing "SEL" to receive the specific item being offered.

According to Cablevision, each of the campaigns for those four marketers was scheduled to run for two weeks but ended in an average of one week because the high response rate tapped out the supplies of samples or coupons.

"The launch of Optimum Select has been a resounding success, marking a defining moment in interactive television," said David Kline, president of Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., the advertising sales arm of both Cablevision and its Rainbow Media programming group. "We are excited that consumers are engaged and interacting with Optimum Select on a regular basis with a broad range of advertisers, as it clearly illustrates the many great opportunities to come."

Kline added that the company has recently begun working with local advertisers in the travel, tourism and healthcare industries on Optimum Select RFI campaigns and that those advertisers have seen similar results.

In addition, as previously reported by Multichannel News, Cablevision last month introduced the second phase of Optimum Select to let consumers save long-form video to a folder and watch it later. The MSO's first campaign on this front let viewers "bookmark" a two-minute trailer of Paramount Pictures' holiday release Up in the Air for later on-demand viewing. The feature, called Optimum Select Content Saving, is available from the main iO TV menu the Optimum Select folder.

In 2010, Cablevision has said, it plans to add "t-commerce" capability to let marketers sell products or services through ITV ads.

Separately, Canoe Ventures -- formed by the six largest U.S. MSOs, including Cablevision -- expects to commercially launch an interactive RFI service covering a national footprint sometime in the spring of 2010, after previously shooting to deliver that before the end of 2009.