Cablevision Bows Interactive TV Ads


Cablevision Systems is launching an interactive TV advertising service called Optimum Select that will let viewers request coupons, product samples or video-on-demand segments by pressing the "select" button on their remote controls during 30-second local ads.

The service, to be available to the operator's 2.9 million digital-cable subscribers in the New York area, will kick off this week with a "teaser" campaign that Cablevision is using to introduce the concept. In October, the operator expects to debut interactive spots with at least six major consumer-brand advertisers.

Benjamin Moore will be one of the first advertisers using the Optimum Select service. The paint company will be running an interactive ad that will send the MSO's customers a coupon for a free two-ounce color sample if they press the "SEL" button on their remote while the spot is aired.

Gemma Toner, Cablevision's senior vice president of marketing and business development, said the service was designed to deliver an extremely simple interactive experience.

"We've done significant consumer research over the past year and consumers are kind of jaded on interactive TV," she said. "We've chosen to make this application really simple to understand."

Initially, the service will launch with Optimum Select RFI, the request for information (RFI) feature. Cablevision will roll out additional features in the next 12 months, including the ability for consumers to save video content for later viewing and to eventually make purchases using the remote's "select" button.

As for how this will fit in with Canoe Ventures' plans to deliver RFI capabilities, Toner said, "This is seeding the behavior for any interactive behavior. As a consumer, you know to press ‘select' to act on that overlay."

Canoe is the six-operator joint venture whose founding members are Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks. Canoe this summer canceled plans for its first product, Community Addressable Messaging, and instead said it would focus on launching an RFI service in the fourth quarter.

Optimum Select spots display a "Select" button overlay at the bottom of the screen. If the viewer presses the "select" button, the current program is shifted to the top right corner of the screen to allow continued viewing. Various options may appear, including the ability to click the "select" button again to receive a free sample of the product, coupon, or additional product information, depending on the specific campaign and advertiser.

Once the consumer selects "Submit," the sample, coupon or product information will be mailed to the subscriber's home using the address that corresponds with his or her account.

A video of Cablevision's teaser campaign promotion Optimum Select is available here.

Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella said the pricing of the interactive-ad feature will be "part of broader discussions" between the operator and advertisers.

The MSO has also launched an addressable-advertising service to about half a million subscribers that delivers targeted spots based on an individual subscriber household's demographic data.