B3TV Plans Interactive Test

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B3TV, an interactive television company in San Francisco, plans to launch a new interactive advertising campaign for Domino's Pizza Aug. 21-22.


The spot allows a viewer with a WebTV Internet Terminal hooked to the television to order a pizza by clicking on an icon that appears in a Domino's commercial.


B3TV has a short-term agreement with Domino's to include the interactive feature, which will be aired during the Star Trek Next Generation Marathon scheduled to air on KBHK-TV, the UPN affiliate in San Francisco in two weeks.


"Now couch potatoes only need a credit card and a remote control to order a pizza," said David Kaiser, CEO of B3TV. "This is being done through Web TV only, not cable."


The test campaign is not the first time B3TV has done an interactive commercial through WebTV. Last month the company tested two interactive infomercials for Sea World on consecutive weekends. The first infomercial demonstrated highlights of Sea World and included a contest entry for a chance to win T-shirts and a trip to Sea World.


The second infomercial included educational information about sea life, interspersed with an offer to purchase books and videos.


"The Sea World show was more of an engineering test than a real campaign," said Todd Lash, vice president of marketing, B3TV. "We are still compiling the results and although nothing is set in stone, Sea World is interested in more of these kinds of shows."


B3TV does not produce the shows, but provides the technology for the marketers to run interactive advertising. The interactive icon that appears in the commercials is sent through the Internet to allow for addressable marketing.


"There is a graveyard of failed interactive television attempts out there," Kaiser said. "Although we are only nine months old, all of the founders have experience with start-up companies."


Both Kaiser and Lash were original employees of America Online Inc. when the company was formed. Suzanne Stefanac, vice president of creative, was a former executive producer at MSNBC and ZDTV. The company's chief technical officer is Jay Weber, the architect of the electronic commerce strategy of Verifone Inc., which makes systems for credit and debit card reading.


B3TV said it charges higher than average rates for interactive advertising, but says advertisers are attracted to this form of marketing.


"This is not your average shopping cart style of interactivity," said Kaiser. "This form of advertising makes the dollar work harder. In the case of networks, they will be able to charge higher rates, while cable and satellite stations will be able to extract higher fees. Plus there will be revenue generated from the selling of lists."


Interactive television has the capacity to handle more hits per Web site than standard HTML e-commerce sites. According to B3TV research, the average HTML Web site is not capable of handling 1 million hits, which is the company's projected number of hits to a good interactive ad.


The company sees competition from other interactive companies, such as Wink Communications and standard DRTV infomercials and spots. Wink is 5 years old and has the potential to reach 120,000 viewers.


"The competition is not as strong here as in Europe because this country has not settled its privacy issues like European countries have," Kaiser said. "What interactivity is doing for the television is taking the technology of the Internet and transferring it to the television, which means eventually every commercial will be direct response."
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