France Telecom's Orange Launches Interactive TV Advertising on its IPTV Platform

France Telecom's Orange brand announced Wednesday that it has launched an interactive TV advertising service on its ADSL-based IPTV platform, following a successful trial with automaker, Citroen, last November that encompassed 100,000 French households. According to Orange, interactive TV advertising campaigns can now reach all of its approximately 2 million customers: on September 9th, for example, Citroen launched a system-wide interactive ad campaign on Orange's sport info channel to publicize its 90th anniversary; and, Orange says, the auto maker plans to run additional interactive ad campaigns between now and the end of the year. While interactive TV advertising is currently available only on Orange sport info, Orange says it will also be available on its Orange sport channel by the end of the year.

The new interactive TV advertising service presents viewers with interactive banners that are superimposed on the screen during commercial spots and that allow viewers to click to go to a "Dedicated Advertiser Location" (DAL), an interactive mini-site dedicated to the advertiser and featuring supplemental information on the advertised product, including text, photos and videos. The DAL also allows viewers to ask to be contacted, request additional information, schedule a test drive (in the case of automobile ads), and obtain a list of retail outlets where an advertised product is sold. "The trial that we carried out with Orange in November 2008 demonstrated great interest for a brand wanting to establish a special link between its advertising communication and its business development objectives," Philippe Boutron, Citroen's head of media, said in a prepared statement. "It also seemed self-evident that we should take part in this launch to assess, once and for all, the effectiveness of this new form of communication provided by Orange." Added Paul-Francois Fournier, EVP of Orange's Audience and Advertising unit: "With this innovative technology, advertisers will have new opportunities to develop richer and more interactive forms of communication. Already available on Orange sport info, interactive advertising will be available on Orange sport by the end of the year."

According to Orange's Fournier, the new interactive TV advertising service provides detailed metrics: "At the time when advertisers are looking for more measurable and profitable forms of communication, interactive advertising indeed enables them to move from passive measurement to a completely new way of measuring the effectiveness of the TV medium, based not on the overall audience but on the viewer's involvement, as it is the case for the Web," he continued. "To do this, Orange provides advertisers with not only all the indicators they need to assess return on investment but also a great deal of qualitative information to better understand their customers' expectations. The move from mass-market communication to personalized communication, thanks to interactive advertising on IPTV, enables advertisers to encourage viewers to create their own viewing experience with the brand. It's a great step towards re-energizing the TV advertising medium," he added.

Orange says that it plans to trial interactive TV advertising in other countries in which it operates, including Poland and Spain. Earlier this summer, the company launched an interactive TV advertising campaign to promote the interactive services that it offers on Orange sport and various of its other channels. It says that the campaign's interactive spots had an average click rate of 2.54%.

A video showcasing Orange's interactive TV advertising service is available above.