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Wink Communications Launching Interactive TV Commercials

Alameda, CA-based Wink Communications is launching its Wink Smart E-Commercial technology, saying it makes "one-click e-commerce--previously associated only with the Internet--possible for television viewers."

Procter & Gamble and The Clorox Co. will be among the first major advertisers to test a number of their existing television spots using the new technology, which enables customers to instantly request samples and other materials that encourage trial and purchase.

Brokerage Charles Schwab will employ Wink E-Commercials to provide customers easy access to information and to generate leads. All three advertisers will initiate Wink E-Commerce advertisements on cable and broadcast programming in the first quarter of 1999, joining Wink's existing advertisers, AT&T, Levi- Strauss & Co. and General Electric.

Wink said it also expects that participating cable operators will offer local insertion of Wink E-Commercials in the first half of 1999. The technology will be an integral part of Wink's service as Wink Enhanced Broadcasting is rolled out in cable systems across the United States.

"With Wink E-Commercials, direct response marketing capabilities--commonly associated with direct mail and telephone marketing--are now available through the television, using the familiar remote control," commented Wink Communications CEO and President Maggie Wilderotter. "The Wink team is especially pleased that P&G, Clorox and Charles Schwab--all outstanding advertisers--will be using this new capability to make television a one-to- one consumer marketing vehicle."

Wink Enhanced Broadcasting adds interactivity to traditional television programming and advertising to viewers using a Wink-enabled television or set- top terminal. Viewers can respond via their TV remote control. The Wink Response Network aggregates viewers' requests for product or product information and forwards them to advertisers for fulfillment.

Wink said it is expected that as advertisers and networks become familiar with the operation and effectiveness of Wink E-commercials, the sale of interactive ad enhancements to advertisers will be integrated into standard sales processes at the various television and cable networks.

Wink has strategic relationships with Time Warner Cable, Comcast Communications, HBO, ESPN, Charter Communications, InterMedia Partners and Jones Intercable, among others. Television and set-top terminal manufacturers such as General Instrument, Pioneer, Scientific-Atlanta, Toshiba and Matsushita are equipment partners.

Wink Enhanced Broadcasting has been deployed in Japan since October 1996, and in the United States since June 1998 on an InterMedia Partners cable system.