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Time Warner Cable Inc.'s advertising division, Time Warner Cable Media, has launched Enhanced iTV service in Rochester, giving local businesses the ability to gather data and deliver targeted messages to consumers.
Enhanced iTV is the latest offering in Time Warner's interactive television suite and its first to directly target advertisers. Enhanced iTV combines Internet-style advertising with commercials, giving digital cable subscribers the ability to access extra content from advertisers during commercials using their remote controls.
"The service provides a targeted message based upon the time of day," said Warren Lapa, group vice president of digital products and business development for Time Warner. "The advertiser obtains detailed analytics and reporting based on each advertiser's media schedule to provide the advertiser with insight on optimizing their campaign."
Time Warner launched Enhanced iTV in markets such as New York City, Cincinnati and Charlotte, N.C., in March. The service reached Rochester in June. Time Warner's first local Enhanced iTV client said it already has seen positive results.
Henrietta dealership O'Connor Chevrolet Inc. launched its iTV campaign June 22. The dealership's commercial features a translucent overlay message at the bottom of the screen that viewers can click on. Once they click, viewers can see a longer video detailing O'Connor's financing options and introductions to the dealership's staff.
As of Aug. 27, O'Connor's iTV ad had been accessed nearly 1,000 times, said Joli Plucknette-Farmen, communications manager for Time Warner Cable of Western New York.
John Galbraith is CEO of Pittsford-based Twin Advertising, which produced O'Connor's commercial. The iTV platform has given O'Connor the ability to gather information about consumers and their habits that the company would not get from a regular commercial, he said.
"We were able to see when customers were logging in, who we are attracting, what shows our viewers are watching," Galbraith said. "We can also see what time slots are generating the most movement into the long-form video, which will let us target better in the future."
"It's even better than a focus group," Galbraith added. "With a focus group, people can be moved by other people. With iTV, people are clicking through without even thinking about it. You're able to see who is really interested."
Plucknette-Farmen said Time Warner has similar Enhanced iTV campaigns set to run soon for YNN Rochester and law firm Connors & Ferris LLP. Time Warner has seen successful campaigns in other markets, she said.
Brownlee Jewelers, a retail chain in Charlotte, N.C., saw its in-store traffic increase by 150 percent after a three-month iTV campaign of more than 2,000 commercials, said Plucknette-Farmen. The Ohio Lottery launched an Enhanced iTV campaign to gather data on consumers' knowledge of new lottery games.
Lapa said costs of Enhanced iTV campaigns vary depending on the advertiser's needs.
Atlanta telecommunications and technology analyst Jeff Kagan said even if Time Warner's new service gets off to a slow start, it is a sign of where the cable industry is going.
"Typically, new services like this get a slower start but are necessary," he said. "TV is changing. It is getting more competitive. There are more service providers, and they are using wireless and the Internet to deliver programming. The competitive playing space is getting rough in cable television."
This is not the first time that Time Warner has tried interactive advertising. The company partnered with other major cable companies, including Comcast Corp., Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp. and Bright House Networks, to form the advanced advertising firm Canoe Ventures in 2008.
Canoe Ventures planned to provide a national platform for interactive television distribution and was set up to run its interactive service in 25 million homes nationwide. However, in February, the company announced it was shutting down its national interactive television operations to focus on video-on-demand advertising.
Kagan said Canoe Ventures' failure prompted major cable providers such as Time Warner to focus their interactive advertising on local businesses.
Cablevision and Comcast went on to implement their own advanced advertising offerings. Cablevision reported that as of March it had reached approximately 4 billion impressions in the New York City metro market.
"Advertisers who are used to traditional media now have the best of both worlds-traditional and new media," said Time Warner's Lapa. "ITV enables advertisers to transform their 30-second commercial into a two-way dialogue with their consumers where they can evaluate what message and media placement is most effective geographically and demographically."
Kagan said the ability of cable companies to use new technology will determine whether they live or die.
"This is being done for competitive reasons," he said. "Either old cable television companies are dragged into the next century or they will fail. It's really that simple."
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