Channel 4 announces first ever interactive ads on TV at 2017 upfronts

Channel 4 is set to launch the first ever interactive ads on British TV through a broadcast player in response to a surge in demand for video-on-demand.

The broadcaster announced the move at its annual upfronts event in London today, alongside news about a makeover for All4, its VoD platform, an extension of its £1m airtime giveaway to promote diversity in advertising, as well as programming highlights for 2017.

The interactive ads will launch on Roku streaming devices later this month and Channel 4 said viewers will be able to choose between different ad creative, watch additional content or spontaneously click-to-buy the products being advertised.

Channel 4 said it worked with interactive tech company Innovid on the new platform, as well as Xbox, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Burberry as launch advertisers. The broadcaster said demand for Channel 4 content on VoD has increased 35% year on year on platforms including All4, Sky and Virgin Media.

In the past 12 months All4, which currently has 15 million registered users, has launched on PlayStation 4 and Amazon Fire TV. Channel 4 said 51% of all views on All4 have come through television on games consoles as well as smart TVs over the last year.

All4 will also be given a makeover, Channel 4 announced today, with revamped interfaces for smart TVs and games consoles to launch in the coming weeks. This would be followed by new-look home screens on Apple devices, the Android operating system and the All4 website. 

Meanwhile 4Sales, the broadcaster’s ad sales house, will extend its £1m airtime giveaway into next year to increase diversity in UK advertising.

It follows this year’s "Superhumans wanted" campaign, which pledged £1m in free airtime to inspire advertisers and agencies to feature disability in their ad campaigns. Maltesers’ three ads featuring disabled actors won the competition and was featured first during the ad break for the Paralympic Games opening ceremony in September.

Channel 4 also announced a series of new programmes that will air next year, including exclusive rights to the UEFA Women’s Euro football tournament from the Netherlands next year.

Peep Show duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb will also return in a new comedy for Channel 4 called Back, which has been commissioned for six thirty-minute episodes. Back is written by the Emmy award-winning Simon Blackwell, also of Peep Show, who has also worked on political satires Veep and In the Loop.

The hit show SAS: Who Dares Wins will also be recommissioned for a third series after attracting an audience of 2.3 million per episode in series two.

The Jump, the celebrity winter sports competition presented by Davina McCall, will also return for a fourth series in early 2017. Next year’s contestants will include former Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, and model Caprice Bourett. 

David Omodio, digital and creative leader at Channel 4, said: "We were the first broadcaster in the UK to launch interactive ads on our TV player back in 2011 with Innovid so we’re excited to exclusively introduce the next game changer to the digital TV market.

"TV viewing behaviour is evolving with a broader choice of content platforms than ever before – but viewers still gravitate to their favourite screen, the telly.

"By extending our interactive suite to the big screen, advertisers are now able to uniquely interact with our young, proactive audience across all screens."

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