Parts of Europe More Developed Than America in Interactive TV

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MADEIRA, PORTUGAL-While the United States boasts a higher percentage of online households at 30 percent, the development of interactive TV is expected to find readier acceptance in certain European countries.

"Europe has had a longer history with teletext services that did not develop in the United States," said Noah Yasskin, an analyst at Jupiter Communications Europe, a hi-tech market research firm that originated in New York. Teletext is a service that allows viewers to browse information related to TV programming using a remote control. Not only does it supplement program information, it is also transactional.

Yasskin also said the term "convergence" is somewhat of a misnomer, preferring instead the term "divergence" to describe the various kinds of interactive appliances that will become available during the next few years. While the TV and Internet will become more interconnected, TV usage is expected to remain mostly entertainment-oriented, he said.

As far as marketing applications are concerned, several DRTV marketers said Internet-generated transactions were a small percentage of overall sales.

'We put our Web address on our TV commercials, and the amount of traffic it drove was very limited," sad Ken Daly, a DRTV executive at John Mills Ltd., a UK retailer that launched a DRTV marketing program last year.

Yasskin attributed the minimal impact on response to the relatively low percentage of online homes in the United Kingdom, about 15 percent.

Another DRTV marketer said he had not observed any impact on call volume WHEN A Web address is placed in a DRTV spot or infomercial, indicating that the Web is not cannibalizing TV-driven sales.

"We also saw a slight increase in Web traffic after an airing," said Lee Frederiksen, president of Frederiksen Television Inc., Falls Church, VA, "but a one to two percent increase is not that big because there is a margin for 'noise,' when you can't accurately track the source of the traffic."

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