ACTV Partners for European iTV Move

U.S. interactive TV player ACTV looks to move into the European iTV space, through a joint development agreement with the regional division of direct marketer Claritas.

The agreement brings together New York-based ACTV and Claritas — a unit of Dutch media and research giant VNU — to collaborate on the development of interactive television advertising, by rolling out a European version of SpotOn, the chief product of ACTV’s Digital ADCO subsidiary (which is also funded by Motorola and OpenTV).

Amsterdam-based Claritas Europe will be lending its direct marketing technology — targeting, segmentation and database management — to the venture, enabling Digital ADCO to identify and profile iTV users, and to deliver targeted ads. In addition to providing the iTV infrastructure, Digital ADCO will feed viewer information to Claritas, with an eye to developing new joint marketing opportunities in the region.

“We are excited to partner with Digital ADCO as they bring the benefits of targeted advertising technology to European advertisers, programmers and operators,” said Claritas Europe’s chief operating offcer, Jop Pollmann.

The move comes as pure-play iTV firms like ACTV are being joined by traditional media and marketing companies looking to cash in on an emerging industry. Earlier this year, media planner and buyer Carat announced that its interactive unit would lead an industry consortium of iTV advertisers and providers, while consumer packaged goods and grocery store marketer Catalina Marketing inked an interactive television deal with a technology provider.

Traditional clients are also flocking to advertising players like RespondTV and Wink Communications, both of which are signing iTV clients at an increasing rate despite the slacking economy.

In this environment, then, is ACTV looking to stake out its market share by teaming up with an established European direct marketer.

“Claritas’ rich database and extensive experience in precision marketing will be beneficial to Digital ADCO as we introduce our targeted advertising application to the European television industry,” said Gregory Lovett, a senior vice president at ACTV Europe. “The diverse cultural landscape of Europe is ideally suited to SpotOn, and we look forward to teaming with Claritas to deliver greater value to both advertisers and viewers.”

As for Claritas, the company is unabashedly making iTV one of its chief priorities. European executives last month outlined an iTV-centric vision of the direct marketing industry’s future before a meeting of the Dutch marketing industry group Nederlandse Associatie voor Direct Marketing. During the presentation, Claritas laid out what it sees as a tremendous opportunity for European iTV marketing, which it believes will cut into traditional advertising and marketing revenues and practices.

“Interactive TV will end the traditional TV advertising market,” said a Claritas spokesperson. “TV viewers of the future will be in control and decide when, what and how they like to watch … and targeted advertising will have a far bigger impact than is currently assumed.”

CEO Pollmann added, “it is our strong belief that interactive television will transform the traditional TV advertising market, and no company is better positioned to seize that opportunity than Digital ADCO.”

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