“This is a watershed moment for advertising in television,” says Jacqueline Corbelli, founder and chief executive officer of BrightLine, the leading provider of rich media advertising on television. Ever since smart TV and Internet-based programs created new opportunities for interactive advertising, companies have been scrambling to keep up. Corbelli knew this day was coming and has positioned BrightLine as the go-to expert in rich-media advertising.
“Ten years ago we made a bet that the convergence of the Internet and TV would happen,” Corbelli says. However, the company didn’t bet on any specific platform, and instead it pioneered a flexible approach with the universal coding language HTML 5, which works on any type of device or platform. “That put us in the best position to capitalize on the convergence,” Corbelli adds.
With this framework in place, BrightLine is able to create customized, interactive marketing experiences that enable its clients’ audiences to interact with the clients’ brands. This ability to reach any consumer didn’t just happen overnight. “We captured ten years of remote-control click-behavior across all platforms,” she says. “We became experts in how the viewer would respond to an opportunity to interact with a brand.”
Picture a television channel that puts a customer inside a branded experience. That means a viewer could watch how-to videos on creating a new look with cosmetics, then get involved in surveys and sweepstakes to promote the product. This approach works across demographics. A young, male consumer might watch videos showing beautiful women to promote a deodorant, or a mother of young children can take health surveys for cold and cough medicine. “We’re getting millions of viewers to go to these branded destinations,” says Corbelli. The approach creates a new level of entertainment and audience engagement: customers can be engaged with these sites for minutes instead of seconds, and BrightLine captures every click and knows what the viewer looked at, in what order, and for how long.
Analyzing these interactions has yielded impressive findings. Rich advertising is getting an average click rate of 2.5 percent. In contrast, web-only click rates average around 0.17 percent. That makes a huge difference in terms of how many people are willing to click through when a million viewers are watching. As the data becomes clear, advertisers are starting to get the picture as well.
With the majority of Internet users predicted to own a web-connected TV by 2016, advertisers are starting to put serious consideration, and cash, into their rich advertising budgets. “Big companies spend 85 percent of their ad budget on TV,” Corbelli says. “Regardless of how consumers get to their TV program on the Internet, the question for advertisers is “How do you, brand X, continue to connect with, and create a new relationship with, those consumers who can now interact using the Internet?”
Corbelli believes the future of advertising on television is going to be the answer to this essential question. “What we expect is that the digital media plan and the TV media plan are going to begin to merge on this converged platform,” she says. The traditional thirty-second commercial will become just one component of TV advertising, like a pre-roll before the interactive ad.
Over time, Corbelli believes it will become standard for companies to split their advertising budget between traditional television commercials and rich television advertising. “Ultimately, I see the balance tipping towards the latter,” she says. “Given how deeply rooted our TV ad models are, it will be a 70/30 split or so over the foreseeable future.”
And the balance will likely continue to shift as our viewing habits evolve. “Consumers have spoken,” Corbelli says. “They are the reason that TV viewing will fundamentally change over the next few years. We’ve been waiting for it for quite awhile.”