Lexus' interactive channel lures buyers

Lexus says it is intrigued by the sheer scale of the Comcast subscriber base, which has around 20 million video-on-demand subscribers.
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Lexus is offering a new interactive channel through Comcast -- a first in any industry -- that it hopes will entice luxury buyers while providing a new look at the brand.

The channel, which was launched in February, features photo galleries and games along with on-demand TV content such as the Lexus-produced "Verses and Flow" poetry show and "Shut Up and Drive," a show geared toward car lovers.

Lexus says it is intrigued by the sheer scale of the Comcast subscriber base, which has around 20 million video-on-demand subscribers. Lexus worked with Comcast on the design.

The channel has a main screen in the center for viewing content. It is flanked by three selectable images showing the other options available; whichever one is chosen takes over the center screen. Beneath the center screen, other options are offered; people can ask for a brochure, select a photo gallery or play an on-screen maze challenge with their remotes.

The channel also has an online hub based on the TV layout, minus the maze, in which Lexus can use Polk vehicle registration data to direct advertisements toward its targeted audience. Users will be able to click on banner ads online that are linked to lexus.com.

Subscribers can see the content on their TVs from the Xfinity On Demand menu or Xfinity TV Remote app and on the Web at xfinity. com/tv. The channel is 892 or 992, depending on the market.

Lexus Media Manager Teri Hill called the channel a "full-branded experience" that shows another side of Lexus.

"With Comcast, we're looking at this as trying to reach an audience beyond a 30-second TV commercial," Hill said.

Automakers have dabbled in the on-demand space before on Comcast, but not with this level of interactivity. In the past, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors have made advertising available in the on-demand menu where people could view them at their convenience.

Lexus will be able to drive people to the channel through its TV commercials. When a Lexus spot airs, a clickable box will appear on the screen that "telescopes" people to the interactive channel.

Such telescoping overlays have registered a .08 percent click-through rate when other companies have used them, said Davina Kent, vice president of Comcast Media 360.

Because Comcast knows how many clickable boxes were displayed to consumers, Kent said, it can determine the number of people who clicked the "view now" option and calculate the rate.

Lexus' first run with the channel ends this month. Another push is set for May.

"An experience like this is going to be driven by manufacturers around branding and that sort of thing," Kent said. "Given the fact that we have the lead generation opportunity there as well, and given that we work with all three levels of auto advertisers, there's an opportunity to use the telescoping and possibly the rich media with the people in their dealer network to give the experience more legs."

You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com. -- Follow Vince on Twitter


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