Wink Communications, the company whose technology is providing the interactivity, said Time Warner Cable in New York will have deployed 50,000 to 75,000 set-top boxes that will receive the interactive spots by July.
Wink expects to have 300,000 to 500,000 cable homes nationwide able to receive the spots by fall. ABC and CBS have now agreed to join NBC in transmitting the Wink technology in their TV signals.
IN TENNESSEE IN JUNE
Wink also has agreements with a number of cable networks. In June, it will run its first interactive commercials in a Charter Communications-owned cable system in Kingsport, Tenn., reaching about 15,000 homes.
There is no extra charge to subscribers for the interactivity.
Most of the spots will be existing commercials enhanced for interactivity. In addition to answering a few questions, viewers will be able to order brochures, product samples or discount coupons through most of the spots.
AT&T is working on a spot in which viewers would be asked to push a "yes" button on the remote if he or she wants to order AT&T long-distance service.
In all the Wink-enhanced spots, an I -- for interactive -- will pop up at the upper left-hand corner of the screen. By pushing buttons on the cable-system-provided remote control, the viewer can respond to questions that appear at the bottom of the screen.
P&G is creating interactive spots for its Cover Girl and Tide brands. Wink said Grey Interactive, New York, is working with P&G to make its spots interactive.
"We provide advertisers with consumers' names and addresses and, if it's a purchase, the consumer's credit-card information, with the consumer's permission" said Maggie Wilderotter, Wink president-CEO. "Also, we provide the advertiser with what program the consumer interacted with, time of day, what day of week, what network, what campaign, and what distribution -- cable or satellite or [eventually] over-the-air."
CLOROX EAGER TO LEARN
Clorox will offer a coupon for Clorox 2 bleach in its spot.
"We're very eager to learn about this technology," said David Hamlin, the marketer's manager of new-media technology. "We need the feedback as we work to design commercials in the future."
Mr. Hamlin said NBC is charging "$50 a pop" for broadcasting a Wink interactive-enhanced ad.
"Since we're all trying to learn about this interactivity together, I don't see