Interactive ads ‘lack creativity’

Creative standards in interactive TV advertising are failing to improve, despite increasing demand from clients for iTV campaigns.

The launch this month of the first iTV campaign from Zip TV – the TV alternative to Sky Interactive – has highlighted the paucity of quality creative content and resource being put into iTV campaigns by the UK’s media and creative advertising agencies.

Speaking at the launch of Zip TV – the first execution of which is from Honda – at London’s BT Tower, founder Andrew Howells admitted that Zip’s entry to the market had not boosted creativity in iTV and that better interactive ads have to come from agencies.

“There’s absolutely nothing different, whatsoever,” said Howells.

“Great creativity isn’t going to come from Zip TV – great creativity is going to come from the existing great agencies.”

Zip TV is owned by a consortium of major advertisers, including Honda, Orange, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and, most recently, Woolworths.

Experts say that advertising agencies have failed to dedicate adequate resources and creative focus to the area – there are even horror stories about work experience people getting lumbered with this part of a client’s briefs.

Chris Moreton, chief executive of Press Red, an interactive TV technology company that works with agencies on creating iTV campaigns, said some interactive TV campaigns were successful creatively and commercially, but standards were generally not as high as they could be.

“Interactivity is usually added at a late stage of the planning process,” Moreton said.

“Historically, it’s added to the campaign by media buyers with media owners, not by the creative agency.”

Moreton claimed the short lead-times combined with the fact that creative applications had to jump through a number of technical hoops to get on air, meant standards were suffering. “There isn’t a blank sheet when it comes to creativity in interactive TV advertising,” he added. “Any application has to go through a rigorous testing process.”

Evidence suggests that the demand for iTV advertising campaigns and strategies is increasing from clients. Moreton expects this to improve the situation.

“That may lead to a growing interest in exploring the possibilities of iTV,” he said.

Sky launched the first iTV ad campaign in 2000, but since then brands have failed to do much more than allow viewers to request brochures and test drives – with a few exceptions.

Recent campaigns by brands such as Adidas and Honda have created extra video footage that viewers can access and watch by pressing the red button through to the iTV stream.

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