Cablevision plans to begin showing "interactive" advertisements to its cable customers next month, according to the Wall Street Journal, and other cable companies are following suit. The push is to make TV a "lean-forward" medium, says one Comcast exec. But do we really want to lean forward in front of our TVs?
Since time immemorial, TV and the Internet have failed to supplement each other in meaningful ways. The failure of WebTV and the tepid adoption of the YouTube function on many new TVs are just a slice of the collateral damage. But cable providers are convinced that if they make TV ads click-able, and then send crap to your house as a follow-up, they'll finally find that advertising alchemy. Cablevision has already made plans with Benjamin Moore paints; click one of their ads with your remote, and the company will send you free paint samples. Mmhm.
But according to Time Warner, also quoted in the WSJ piece, click-able TV ads don't have to be alluring--they just have to be easier than getting someone to go to their computer or make a call. If advertisers can see even a slight uptick in ad-to-action conversion, they'll be happy.