It’s safe to say that interactive ads have been around for a while but in case you need a brief summary they essentially allow consumers to take an action while a commercial runs.
What’s so different about what The Weather Channel is currently doing with them is that while these ads are usually relegated during an ad break, they’re now infiltrating them into the content on their streaming apps. This will allow weather updates or other programming to continue to play while an interactive ad surrounds the content.

The ad product carrying out the task is called Proteus Experience Engine and is the latest tool from Brightline, the connected TV ad tech company that fuels interactive commercial breaks on major streamers including Hulu, Peacock and Max. The product marks the first time Brightline is bringing its interactive advertising technology from traditional ad breaks into the content stream itself. 

It also marks the first step by the company to expand interactive advertising into branded content, make shows interactive and even solve elements of the ongoing media measurement upheaval.

The in-stream ads will initially last seven to 10 seconds, and can take the form of a branded slide, QR codes or redirect users to other channels. A demo image shows Local Now content playing within a Proteus XE ad for The Weather Channel. The ads might also eventually connect users to other content from The Weather Channel parent Allen Media Group, such as The Grio or Byron Allen’s Oscars gala, according to the company.

Allen Media Group plans to launch the product later this summer with three to five advertisers and is pitching it during its upfront negotiations. It is using it as a value incentive for upfront negotiations during its initial beta tests. For example, if a brand is negotiating a channel takeover on Local Now, a Proteus ad might be included in the deal to place in the platform’s other channels to direct them to the sponsored channel.

Proteus will also tap into marketers’ evolving needs for measuring outcomes, according to Robert Aksman, chief strategy officer at Brightline. By providing a direct source of interaction with viewers, Brightline is able to track audience attention and business outcomes from consumers that interact with the product, as well as verify the ad’s viewership.

Allen Media Group is mindful of the placement of these ads to avoid risky situations, such as advertising a food delivery brand during coverage of a hurricane. As a result, the ad format won’t be available through programmatic platforms.

The product is designed to feed The Weather Channel’s hyper-local targeting data to Brightline to serve relevant ads—an allergy medicine might sponsor a segment on local pollen counts and serve different ads for its products based on the region’s pollen.

Michael Bologna, co-founder and chief accelerator at Brightline says that he envisions a future where Proteus returns marketers to the 1950s, when brands like Procter & Gamble were built into soap operas.

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