GSN/Ball State Study on TV Interactivity and Advertising

Short head: Interactive television delivers viewer involvement, engagement

Summary: A new study examining interactive television finds that viewers enjoy

the competitive nature of game shows and interactive commercials, increasing

viewer involvement and engagement for advertisers.

Study finds television viewers want more, not less interactivity

Mar 13, 2006, 00:00 ET from GSN

    MUNCIE, Ind., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Television viewers not only prefer
 the highly competitive nature of interactive television programs, but also
 enjoy interactive commercials, says a new study from Ball State University.
     "The Power of Play: Exploring the Impact of the iTV 2-Screen Gaming
 Experience," conducted by Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD), done in
 partnership with cable network GSN, is believed to be the first comprehensive
 study examining how U.S. consumers interact with television.
     CMD found the vast majority of participants said competition was a major
 factor when interacting with game-based programming and advertising.  In
 studying two-screen interactivity, researchers examined how viewers watched
 television game shows while competing via computer.
     This "playing-along" changed their viewing experience by allowing them to
 compete with contestants on the television show as well as people playing
 online, said Mike Bloxham, CMD's director of testing and assessment.
     "People who watch game shows generally try to answer questions before the
 contestants on television, but we found that level of competitiveness
 increases and the immersive nature of the experience deepens when home viewers
 have the opportunity to play against people from around the country through an
 online system," Bloxham said.  "At a time when Madison Avenue is putting a
 great deal of effort into defining and measuring it, we have been able to
 observe this willingness to not only pay attention to, but enthusiastically
 engage with ads.  People motivated by scoring points during the show were just
 as eager to earn bonus points answering questions on messages within
     Through a combination of field research and analysis by CMD of data
 collected by third party provider GoldPocket Interactive for GSN over the last
 four years, the study also found:
     *  On average, seventy-six percent of viewers playing along with the
        program also interact with advertisers' interactive commercials.
     *  The majority of participants were disappointed if a commercial break
        did not include an interactive commercial, which may be evidence of
        demand for more interactivity.
     *  100 percent of participants said they would be more likely to pay
        attention to interactive commercials if they were rewarded points to
        be used for prizes.
     *  100 percent of the participants recalled interactive commercials and
        the bonus questions related to the ad.
     *  Participants recommended several retail areas as being ideal for
        interactivity, including consumer electronics, software, food,
     *  restaurants, automotive and beverage.
     *  Respondents said incentives would encourage them to play more often.
        Bidding points on vacations or trips, and winning laptop computers and
        cash were the biggest rewards mentioned.
     *  Most expectations were for smaller rewards such as a coupons, discounts
        or gift certificates that could be printed.
     Bloxham said the study shows interactivity is a positive experience for
 the viewer, advertisers, and GSN, which is fertile ground for exploring the
 two-screen approach of interacting with television via computer because all
 of the network's schedule is interactive.
     "Interactivity has the potential to deliver more value to viewers and
 advertisers and, therefore, to GSN itself," Bloxham said.  "The immersive
 nature of game shows and other game-based programming obviously lends itself
 to this approach, but the implications of the study suggest that other types
 of content can also successfully leverage such interactivity if the creative
 approach complements the programming.
     "Little public-domain research to date has explored this apparently
 symbiotic relationship between content and interactivity or the extent to
 which the overall viewing experience is impacted and how it influences
 advertising," he said.
     GSN partnered with Ball State to provide greater insight into the value of
 interactivity to both viewers and advertisers, said Chris Raleigh, GSN's
 senior vice president for ad sales.
     "In a time when there is a concern that consumers are actively avoiding
 intrusive advertising, the study shows interactive television is a platform
 where viewers are asking for more involvement with brands that enhance their
 experience," he said.  "As a result of the study we have created the new
 'Interactive Pod,' which is an immersive interactive experience for
 advertisers that extends up to 90 seconds, and the 'Power Play,' which
 provides advertisers with multiple interactive opportunities.
     "We will include these opportunities with the Ball State study results in
 our upfront presentations that highlight the 'power of play' in interactive
 television advertising."
     CMD will make the white paper available online in the coming weeks.
     About GSN
     GSN, the network for games, has consistently been the industry's leading
 producer of interactive television, currently with over 133 hours of such
 programming per week.  Since 2002, GSN's programming has triggered over
 25 million iTV plays.  In the same period of time GSN has featured over
 170 separate advertising campaigns with 34 different companies, in 17 major
 advertising categories highlighting over 80 brands.  GSN's efforts have
 included work with such advertising categories as pharmaceutical, automotive,
 travel, retail and packaged goods.  Consumer engagement has increased every
 year with the average interactive viewing time increasing from 24 to 35
 minutes, a 46-percent increase from 2002 to 2005.  Reaching nearly 60 million
 Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems
 and satellite providers.  The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures
 Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation.
     About Ball State University and the Center for Media Design
     Ball State University, located in Muncie, Ind., is the third-largest
 public university in Indiana, with more than 18,000 students.  Originally a
 private teacher training school when it opened in 1899, Ball State became a
 university in 1965.  The 1,035-acre campus in Delaware County is an hour's
 drive northeast of Indianapolis.
     The Center for Media Design is an R&D facility focused on the creation,
 testing and practical application of digital technologies and content for
 business, classroom, home and community.  The center's Middletown Media
 Studies have garnered international attention for their comprehensive
 observational approach to measuring consumers' daily interactions with and
 exposure to media.