Merlin Inkley, head of airtime management at the broadcaster, said C4 was exploring major expansion into mobile content, including a joint initiative with BT Broadcast. But Inkley poured cold water over the medium that most members of the audience were there to discuss.
"Eighty-five per cent of our viewers will not see the red button," he said in his speech at the Second Interactive TV Show, pointing out the fact that only the Sky platform allowed return path technology to allow viewers to fully interact with ads.
"We make much more revenue in one day from traditional advertising than we do in a whole year in interactive."
Inkley said C4 "absolutely saw interactive advertising as the way of the future", but said it was a long way off becoming a major money maker.
He was more excited about the possibilities for mobile, which he said "enables more specific targeting from which you can gain a lot of information about the user". C4 has already signed up as a content provider for Orange TV, which launched last week, as the UK's first mobile TV operation and is also exploring opportunities with BT.
Andrew Haslewood, media solutions director of BT Broadcast, told the conference that mobile devices would become the main way to receive entertainment within the next decade.
"The average 16-year-old has got more communications power than President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis," he said.
"Mobile phones are not an extension of the TV set, or the internet – they are an extension of us as people."
As well as its link-up with C4, BT is planning a major mobile advertising blitz for its BT Broadband service in July.
But Rhys McLachlan, head of TV implementation at MediaCom, told the conference he "remained to be convinced" of the potential for mobiles to carry advertising.
"There are two key elements which people find increasingly frustrating," McLachlan said. "One is spam via email and the other is spam via telephones. We have to be very careful about this."
Putting interactive on the media map
Zip TV is to launch a media planning tool to boost interactive TV in the absence of official figures from television ratings body Barb.
Andrew Howells, Zip TV's managing director, said the tool would gauge the success of ads both in terms of direct response and branding.
Zip hopes the system – which will be based on how many viewers respond to interactive ads, at what times of the day, during which shows and for how long – will encourage more advertisers to commit to interactivity.
Zip's biggest client is Honda, which is famous for ads such as the Honda Cog campaign.
Ian Armstrong, manager of customer communications for Honda, said the company still "knew very little" about the medium.
The recent Honda Diesel campaign hooked those who interacted with it for an average of eight-and-a-half minutes, but Armstrong said: "In five years' time, I might be saying that's appalling, we should have had them for two hours."