A new category in the prestigious D&AD Awards will be dedicated to creative excellence in interactive television, with nominations for Interactive Advertising, Enhanced Television and Interactive Services. The annual Yellow and Blank Pencil awards attract 14,000 entries from leading creative agencies.

In a further initiative, Sky and D&AD will invite creative agencies to participate in a series of three focus groups to raise the profile of interactive television advertising within the creative community and act as a forum for debate about the creative direction of the medium.

Ian Shepherd, managing director of Sky Interactive, said: “The growing creative ambition of iTV advertising is a hugely significant development for a medium once regarded by some as suitable only for direct response.”

He said that the new category of award would encourage creatives to explore the potential of interactive television, adding “This partnership is an important element of Sky’s long-term commitment to work with the industry to sustain the growth of iTV.”

Jon Williams, interactive creative director of Publicis Dialog, who will lead the judging of the awards, said: “It is indicative of the rising importance and acceptance of the medium that it should be laid bare to creative scrutiny by the leading scheme of its type in the world.”

He echoed the comments from Sky, saying “Interactive TV, with its inherent brand enhancing capacity, should be viewed primarily as broadcast media, not purely a direct response tool as has been the case in the past.”

The new partnership builds on the previous successful co-operation between Sky Interactive and D&AD in this year’s Out of the Box competition, in which Sky awarded an interactive television campaign worth £250,000 to the agency that devised the most innovative and imaginative iTV advertisement.

Over three quarters of the UK’s top fifty advertisers have run interactive commercials with Sky, with the three biggest commercial broadcasters (ITV, Channel Four and five) offering interactive advertising on the satellite platform. According to Continental Research, nearly one in five digital satellite viewers have interacted with an advertisement over the last year.