04/09/2012 06:12 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2012

Insights on Tech as an Agent for Transformative Change, on Madison Avenue and Beyond

When you think about advertising, it's not likely that the latest tech gadget immediately leaps to mind. But, new technologies and digital devices play a vital role in how today's digitally connected consumers engage with and experience life, and as an extension brands. Over the past ten years, technology has helped redefine the way businesses in most industries add value. From online banking to internet advertising, the business landscape has been reshaped by the ways consumers discover, interact with, and absorb information and content. And there's a pattern -- when technology proves it can enhance our experience as consumers, it tends to catch on. Pure technology solutions on the other hand ('technology for the sake of technology'), most often, do not. From advising CEOs on how to best harness and capitalize on the promise of technology, to my current role leading the TV advertising company I founded and architected off the same premise back in 2003, I consistently find that true technology solutions feed our desired behaviors and preferences as consumers, rather than simply change or replace them. Smart phones, tablets, mini-laptops, connected TVs -- the value to us of this ever-increasing array of devices lies in the ways we combine our use of them to specifically fit our life; our decisions are most often guided by choice, ease of use and control. As part of my new contributed blog series, I'm going to cover the various ways technology is influencing our behavior, what and why we adopt and the impact of true technology solutions on the world -- from mental models to business models, economic development to keeping a business relevant to consumers. All with a persistent focus on the winning formula: a sustained commitment to increasing the impact and quality of the end consumer experience. I'll begin with one of my latest passions, advertising. Digital Killed the TV Star? Digital media reporters have asserted that Silicon Valley is the new Madison Avenue. With so much focus on digital and social media, you would have expected technology to successfully kill the 30-second TV commercial. Not true. In fact, TV advertising and how you experience it has been going through a decade of gradual transformation that allows your favorite brands to build an interaction and relationship with you, through deeper engagement and an ongoing dialogue. It's a widely held belief that as consumers we hate advertising; many point to our desire to skip commercials in favor of a TiVo or VOD experience. However, the latest statistics on the topic show there is a place for advertising in consumers' lives. That, indeed, when made enjoyable and to fit seamlessly with the way we prefer to watch television, ads not only "break through" the clutter and noise of our busy lives, they actually can inspire us to voluntarily watch and interact with them -- at a rate of millions per week, to be exact. As a result, major consumer brands -- and the country's top advertisers -- have set their sights on the latest in interactive TV advertising as a way to build an ongoing dialogue with their target consumers. Here are just a few of the brands running the newest, most innovative forms of interactive TV ads that viewers can watch right now:

  • Axe, via Xbox and iPhone iAd
  • Degree for Men, via Xbox
  • Dr. Pepper, via Xbox, DIRECTV and Dish
  • GM Chevy Sonic, via DIRECTV and Xbox
  • Hellmann's, via Dish and Verizon FiOS
  • Suave Keratin Infusion, via DIRECTV, Cablevision and iPad iAd
  • Tresemme, via DIRECTV and Dish
  • Red Bull, via Xbox
What's most shocking to some is the results these interactive campaigns are generating. iTV ad campaigns average 3 to 5 percent click rates. For some perspective, this compares to best performance benchmark online of just less than one percent. In addition, TV viewers are spending up to 15 minutes playing custom branded games, downloading recipes, entering sweepstakes, ordering products and more, all with their remote control. According to Nielsen, these interactive campaigns consistently outperform traditional TV and online advertising in generating awareness, engagement and ROI. I'll touch more on these compelling figures in my next blog post, "New TV Behaviors Contributing to Advances in Interactive TV Advertising."