A new interactive advert will for the first time count the number of viewers pressing the red button on their remote control, without requiring users to confirm or enter further details.

The new campaign on the Sky platform in the UK attempts to address the issue of the measurability of interactive services.

Previous interactive advertising campaigns provided by Zip Television have involved some form of direct response mechanism in order to measure actual usage. Typically this has required users to enter their details to request further product information, apply for a free gift or enter a competition.

Even where this does not require users to laboriously enter their personal information, this approach generally under-represents the number of viewers that pressed the red button in the first place. Interactive adverts have therefore been seen by some as a direct response medium, rather than a more creative opportunity to build brands or awareness, as it has been more difficult to measure the effectiveness of such campaigns.

A new interactive advert for the Bridget Jones sequel movie is designed to dial-up as soon as the user enters the interactive application, providing a more accurate measure of usage, rather like the click-through metric used for online campaigns.

Splash screen of interactive television advert for Bridget Jones: The Age of Reason (UIP)

After pressing the red button, the user is informed that the set-top box is making a free telephone call. The interaction is logged by means of what is termed a drop call, which allows the time and potentially the telephone number calling to be recorded.

The interactive campaign will run against commercials on Channel Four, UKTV and Flextech channels. Users will be able to view a two-minute movie trailer, review the main characters, watch behind-the-scenes footage, or enter a quiz or competition.

Quiz screen of interactive television advert for Bridget Jones: The Age of Reason (UIP)

Steve Hunt, advertising director at United International Pictures, said that Zip had responded positively to their request for a robust measurable solution, adding that the findings “will determine our long term commitment to interactive TV in building experience, expectation, value and interest in our forthcoming product.”

Zip Television will also use additional qualitative consumer research, based on a sample of one hundred of those that interacted, to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

This approach is something of a departure from the usual strict requirements of the Sky platform that have previously required users to confirm explicitly that they wish to initiate a return path call. It also raises interesting issues about personal privacy. In the current absence of any other way of determining how many people actually press red to interact with an advert, this significant development and its implications will no doubt be watched closely.