Interactive TV Ad Test Rolls Out in Boston

Targets 100 Households With Promos for MGM Grand at Foxwoods

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NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- Backchannel Media, a software and technology company with big schemes to change TV advertising, has landed its first client, MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
In a test beginning this month, MGM Grand and its media agency, independent Horizon Media, will put interactive TV ads in 100 households in Boston through ABC affiliate WCVB-DT Channel 5. The partnership aligns with the casino's launch in southeast Connecticut later this month.

Web metrics for TV
At a time when marketers are demanding increasingly accountability from their TV investments, Backchannel is providing more precise metrics than the traditional reach and frequency, such as click-through rates.

"Click-throughs show involvement which will translate to awareness," said Rob Kalman, brand group director at Horizon. "We can see whether or not this type of new media is generating a call to action."

Here's how the technology works: About 100 houses in Boston will be set up with a chip that will make their TVs receptive to the interactive ads. When ads for the MGM Grand appear, viewers can click on an icon embedded in the spot, which signals the viewers personalized portal online on the Backchannel server.

Viewers can then go online to their portals and get more information about the casino. Eventually, viewers may have the opportunity to access sweepstakes, coupons and products.

Boosting awareness
Since the MGM Grand is just opening, Horizon is hoping the online component of the ads will give an extra boost to consumer awareness of the new hotel and casino, Mr. Kalman said.

"We'll wait and see the results, and if the results are positive, we'd like to maintain the partnership with them," he said.

Besides making TV interactive and accountable, Backchannel also wants to make it addressable, so marketers using the software will be able to serve ads to interested consumer down to the ZIP code. Backchannel's executives say the company expects to announce more marketer partnerships and up to 30 additional network TV affiliates coming on board in the coming months.
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