Channel 4 creates 'first ever’ interactive broadcast ad as catch-up viewing shifts from desktop to TV

Channel 4 has created the "first ever" broadcast interactive ad format for TV in response to a shift in on-demand viewing from digital devices to "bigger screens", a.k.a. connected TVs, which now represents over half of All 4 viewing.

The broadcaster has seen 'big screen' views to its on-demand platform All 4 overtake other devices for the first time, up 35% from last year according to its own numbers. This supports the broadcaster's own research which found a 22% uplift in the presence of smart TV sets and smart box/sticks in households between 2015 and 2016. The growth in connected TV viewing is followed closely by mobile viewing, which has increased by 33% year-on-year, and now means desktop is Channel 4’s smallest digital platform.

Driven by this shift, the broadcaster announced at its Upfronts today (15 November) it is partnering with video ad platform Innovid to offer advertisers interactive and personalised ad formats on TV for the first time – after already establishing similar formats for digital devices in 2011 – giving advertisers the option to display their wares equally across all screens and devices.

The new formats give advertisers the ability to modify ad units based on a audiences’s viewing habits, or registered demographic data via set-top boxes plus media streaming services, such as Roku and Xbox, with Alzheimer’s Research and Burberry the first brands to take advantage of the offering.

The first adverts will launch on Roku devices later in November giving viewers the option to choose between different ad creative, watch additional content or spontaneously click-to-buy the products being advertised.

The interactivity of the ads opens up a slate of e-commerce options, which can be served in a number of ways. For instance, viewers can input their data, such as a phone number, and then a push-message is sent to them giving them the option to buy directly from their mobile device. Viewers may also be able to purchase advertised products by scanning a QR code from the ads on the big screen, directing them to a landing page.

Tal Chalozin, chief technology of Innovid, said: “What we’re announcing that’s very new is that Channel 4 is looking at connected TV as the future, and is making advanced marketing capabilities available on its app for the first time. It is the first broadcaster in the UK to have advanced advertising on their connected TV viewing.”

Connected TV is a largely unexplored but promising medium among marketers looking to escape bot fraud and increase the likelihood of their digital ads being viewed by a human being, according to Chalozin.

Additionally, Channel 4 and Innovid used the Upfront to debut another commercial offering with the unveiling of ispon – what they claim is the first ever suite of interactive sponsorship formats for connected TVs.

Initial brands taking up the sponsorship packages include Mitsubishi, Dominos and Sofology on programmes including: Documentaries on 4; Hollyoaks and Gogglebox.

The sponsorship format is the latest addition to Channel 4’s interactive ad suite which mines first-party data from over 15 million registered viewers giving brands the opportunity to engage with audiences via personalised ad formats such AD 4 U, or its sequential format Ad Journey, as well as its product showcasing formats Ad Shop plus Hotspots, among others. Such ad formats now account for 15% of all of Channel 4’s digital advertising revenues.

Interview with Innovid conducted by The Drum's digital editor Ronan Shields.

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