Monday, February 11, 2008

Navigating The Backchannel

One of the great benefits of below-the-line TV is that a backchannel can be created to the customer.

In online advertising backchannels are not as straightforward as they seem. Take the following scenario.
  • I search for a camera using Google; Google returns natural search and search ads
  • In this instance I click upon the ad
  • This takes me to a price comparison site, say PriceRunner
  • Pricerunner then directs me to the Empire Direct website where I buy my new camera online

There are two qualifying filters for this transaction - the first is the search query I placed into Google, the second is the query passed through to the Price Runner database that further hones down my search before passing me to a transactional website.

But there's one important feature of this process - the user remains anonymous.

Video has been proven to elicit much higher response rates than search results, so the backchannel becomes stronger, but there's still the challenge of getting the viewer to the response ad in the first place.

Google is working on overlays, whereas companies like Narrowstep have already developed ad matching technolgoy based on video metadata.

There are also companies that specialise in the backchannel, such as Backchannel Media, but the reality is that targetting is technically quite easy to do, either using a simple matching process or more complex alogrithms. What is difficult is getting people's permission to opt in to advertising programmes.

However, as the internet TV industry develops this is likely to be used as leverage by more and more service providers who wish to increase their revenues per click and revenue per view rates.

Internet TV companies are going to have to learn to navigate the backchannel if they are to optimise their business models.

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