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Understanding Interactive TV In Its Simplest Sense


Interactive TV or iTV without the technical terminology is any television that enables interaction between the broadcaster and the viewer. One would assume that this is exactly the kind of televisions we have now and this is a correct assumption. The slight difference is instead of the broadcaster solely transmitting data to the viewer, the viewer can transmit data to the broadcaster as well, thus, the term interactive.

We are not new to this as we see interactive programs that encourage audience participation such as American Idol where you can vote for your favorite performer through SMS. Although this kind of technology has existed for a few years now people may be forgiven for thinking it is a new technology because it is not as used as commonly as we would expect.

A topic a little difficult to grasp because terminology used on the web or on national television is really a little too complex for the average folk who cannot care less about the latest smart phone or the new Twitter interface, not to mention exaggerated and there are just way too many subsets to interactive TV.

And frankly, people do not even see the difference from each other. That line is continuously blurred without having someone explain it in laymen is terms. The kind of interactive TV we are talking about is one where it is almost like a computer where you choose to click on and off to ads you do not want to see or by being able to play Family Feud in real time through your TV set through the use of a cable box or hardware from your cable provider and in the most likely case, the advertising with the use of digital teletext.

The idea behind iTV is simple – incorporate the sort of functionality widely used on the internet nowadays as a function on the TV. By profiling your daily television-viewing routines, truly interactive TV could direct subscribers to just the programs they enjoy. Advertisements tailored to an individual is tastes could be displayed in a similar way to shopping on Amazon or e-Bay; recommendations are made based on what you previously bought or were looking at.

Targeted advertising on television could, in a sense, be very similar to the way advertisements are displayed on the web and be based on demographic, lifestyle and market segment. Having this kind of targeted advertising available in every home with a television is something that is very hard for marketers to resist, although whether this could have a negative impact on lifestyle no one knows yet.

The possibilities are endless. We already have the ability to pause a real-time telecast and carry on viewing it later in the day. In the future its possible that you could do grocery shopping from your TV with more options to choose from than a physical grocery store and have your shopping delivered thirty minutes after you are done.

Imagine watching favorite episodes any time without having to record it or search on the web because you missed it, or playing a live game of poker competing with players around the world in real-time, checking in on live traffic before heading out or voting on a TV program without having to call or text.

What about playing a game in which you can choose your own path that results in something different happening every time and having the option to undo, switching camera angles for your own comfort or participating on Wheel of Fortune? With technological enhancements advertising could follow in the same direction.

You could vote for the best ad or turn ads on or off. Imagine getting coupons in real-time and using them right there and then or purchasing a make your own pizza through the television and having it delivered within half an hour. Interactive TV has the potential to make all this possible.

When it comes to interactive TV advertising, now more than ever, advertisers are challenged and pressured to produce highly captivating and unique ads to stimulate the interaction or get response, interactive TV may liken its structure to how the internet works today but the structure is different.

Though they may share the same concept it is not as simple as displaying an ad in digital teletext format and expecting it to reap revenue. The competition will be far greater than what it is now on the internet, they are in for the most challenging ride of their life.

Kathryn Dawson writes articles for the Softel Group, a leader in interactive tv. The typical interactive tv advertising and digital teletext application from Softel is highly scalable so as to enhance customer reach by promoting goods and services, as well as news, travel and sports pages.