Nielsen to Measure ACTVs Interactive Ads

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The interactive-advertising business inched forward this month with a number of agreements, most notably a strategic alliance between Nielsen Media Research and ACTV Inc.

The arrangement combines Nielsen's audience-measurement expertise with ACTV's technology for addressable and interactive advertising on digital television. Nielsen senior vice president of interactive services David Harkness said his company will work with ACTV to develop software-metering systems to accurately measure audiences for such advertising.

The goal in making ACTV a measurable service is to find out "who's watching what and what kind of interaction there is," Nielsen senior vice president of communications Jack Loftus added.

Although there is no timetable for this measurement to begin, Loftus said, "We are already pretty far along in designing software for measurement of the PC, Microsoft [Corp.'s WebTV Networks] and ReplayTV [Inc.'s personal-video recorders]."

Nielsen announced an agreement in principle last month with ReplayTV to develop, test and implement software systems to measure program viewership among PVR owners.

The Nielsen/ACTV announcement-which does not involve the companies making financial investments in one another, Loftus stressed-also stated that the companies would "work with all elements of the television industry to achieve a consensus about how such data are to be reported."

During the National Show in New Orleans in early May, ACTV also named Promotion Development Group Inc. to handle its trade marketing campaigns for SpotOn Inc., HyperTV Networks Inc. and other services.

PDG's current clients include Black Entertainment Television, CNBC, MSNBC and Showtime Networks Inc. In the past, it also has developed sweepstakes and other promotions for such clients as Food Network.

ACTV followed those moves last week with an agreement with OpenTV Inc. and Motorola Broadband Communications Sector to form a new subsidiary, Digital ADCO International. According to their letter of intent, the companies plan to deploy ACTV's SpotOn service worldwide via OpenTV's 7.8 million digital set-top boxes.

In still more interactive-advertising-related developments announced earlier this month:

  • ICTV Inc. and AdForce Inc. agreed to work together to provide interactive-advertising-delivery solutions to cable operators. ICTV said its headend-based solution enables delivery of broadband Internet, e-mail and interactive-TV applications to any digital set-top box. Using a single standard cable channel, ICTV's system can support "up to 100 simultaneous online sessions."
  • AdForce-a majority-owned operating company of CMGI Inc.-supplies centralized, outsourced ad-management and delivery services and calls itself "a one-stop advertising, marketing and promotion solution for cable operators."
  • ICTV also forged a strategic partnership with Yack Inc. to provide the latter's Web-programming-guide service and event listings to ICTV customers.

Calling this "a true convergence between television and Internet technologies," the companies said in a joint statement that cable subscribers on ICTV's system will be able to "track the seemingly endless variety of live, on-demand, cached and streamed Web events available each day."

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