Growth Matters: Backchannelmedia joins TV and the Web

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With all the gloom in the global economy, I got to wondering whether there is anything else going on in the world of business. I'm looking for growth because I think that's what will ultimately bring the economy out of the doldrums. Not surprisingly, that growth is coming from technology companies. In Growth Matters, I look at consumer technology companies that point the way to growth trends -- and in the process introduce services and products you may want to explore.

Backchannelmedia, Inc. makes technology that links with a set-top box so that viewers can forward their interests from TV to the Web. So far it's installed almost 100 set-top boxes with its Clickable TV product on them at New England TV stations. So why should you care? Clickable TV lets consumers 'lean back' and relax in their chairs while watching TV but 'lean in' and get more actively involved -- by creating a bookmark of a clickable moment, such as an offer for a discount at a hotel -- while browsing the Web.

How does Backchannelmedia make money at this? Not from consumers, who don't pay a penny. Rather, advertisers such as the hotel pay a cost-per-click fee that is charged to the TV station depending on the type of clickable moment. According to Eric Martin, Director of Marketing, Backchannelmedia sees itself taking a share of the $70 billion TV advertising market one click at a time.

An advertiser might like this because the consumer's engagement suggests a better than normal level of interest in the offer. If it can convince those local TV stations that the resulting revenue will offset the cost of installing Backchannelmedia's hardware and software, it could profit from your clickable moments.

Peter Cohan is president ofPeter S. Cohan & Associates. He also teaches management at Babson College. His eighth book isYou Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing. He has no financial interest in Backchannelmedia.

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