Novartis and McNeil are among the first to use a new direct-response program offered by digital video recording (DVR) firm TiVo.
The branded interactive tags program seeks to give television advertisers direct access to viewers, even when they are ad skipping, said Davina Kent, TiVo's director, advertising and research sales.
"We're providing a value-added incentive to get them to click on [the tag], so it's more valuable to the consumer than your traditional 30-second spot," she told MM&M.
Advertisers who sponsor a branded tag have their graphic call to action appear on screen along with a TiVo "thumbs-up" graphic during commercials. When viewers select the tag as they watch or fast-forward through ads, live or recorded TV pauses as TiVo links them to an opt-in screen where they can get more information, enter a contest or schedule a recording of a program being promoted.
At that point viewers also can opt to release their contact information to the advertiser.
Two Novartis brands, along with McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals' Tylenol, each will begin participating by September.
The system has led to more than double the weekly response rates seen with traditional direct mail, Kent said.
Branded tags can be used to reach only about a third of TiVo's 3.3 million subscribers, but the firm plans a wider release in the future.