News analysis - Teletext counts on brand loyalty.

It would be easy to see the advent of the web and digital TV services as spelling the end for such television text services as Teletext and Ceefax. But while the current technology - now 25 years old - might be superseded, the services that have grown up around it will continue to develop, according to Lawrence Lawson, commercial director at Teletext.

The company is already developing an interactive Information Channel with ITN for the launch of terrestrial digital television services later this year. The services will be similar at launch to what already exists on Teletext, but with enhanced colour and graphics, full motion video and audio.

"We'll be running a digital TV service from day one," said Lawson. But although true interactivity won't be available until the second generation of set-top boxes for terrestrial digital TV, this might be only a few months down the line from launch - offering interactive games, full online transactions and perhaps access to some of the web.

Teletext is the leading medium for advertising holidays in the UK. But while this is the source of two-thirds of its revenue, it is the explosion of web sites in this sector advertising or selling travel services which also presents the greatest threat. The magazine publisher EMAP is having a go with its Bargainholidays web site. It is also known that the Microsoft Network is considering a UK or European version of its Expedia full-service travel site.

"Things such as Expedia are a threat, but the market will continue to grow," said Lawson. He has the advantage of a brand with a loyal following among a large number of UK consumers, many of whom have purchased in response to advertising on Teletext.

And Teletext is also using the web itself. Currently, its site (www.teletext.co.uk) runs the same material as Teletext's travel section on TV. It allows users to browse the ads more easily, and offers links to advertisers' web sites.

But, crucially for advertisers in a sector such as travel and holidays, especially UK-based holidays, the site offers access to an international audience they couldn't easily reach before.

Another advantage Teletext enjoys in the travel sector is that the marketplace has grown up around the service.

Fierce competition, advance purchase of capacity by travel operators, a tendency towards oversupply, and the product's highly perishable nature, together with a growing trend by consumers to buy later, have combined to produce something approaching a 'dealing-floor' mentality in the industry.

"Suppliers change their prices very dynamically, in response to the market - often every few hours," said Lawson. The most effective medium for getting those prices quickly into the marketplace has until now been Teletext.

It is a unique position he intends to protect.

"We see ourselves as delivering an audience to advertisers across as many different electronic media and platforms as are appropriate," he said.

Lawson is confident that the strength of the Teletext brand will continue to attract the consumer: "We invest tens of millions of pounds on editorial to bring in the audience. And it is tremendously loyal. People who have bought off Teletext say they would do so again. They would trust that brand on the web, but also on digital television."

It would be easy to see the advent of the web and digital TV services as spelling the end for such television text services as Teletext and Ceefax. But while the current technology - now 25 years old - might be superseded, the services that have grown up around it will continue to develop, according to Lawrence Lawson, commercial director at Teletext.

The company is already developing an interactive Information Channel with ITN for the launch of terrestrial digital television services later this year. The services will be similar at launch to what already exists on Teletext, but with enhanced colour and graphics, full motion video and audio.

"We'll be running a digital TV service from day one," said Lawson. But although true interactivity won't be available until the second generation of set-top boxes for terrestrial digital TV, this might be only a few months down the line from launch - offering interactive games, full online transactions and perhaps access to some of the web.

Teletext is the leading medium for advertising holidays in the UK. But while this is the source of two-thirds of its revenue, it is the explosion of web sites in this sector advertising or selling travel services which also presents the greatest threat. The magazine publisher EMAP is having a go with its Bargainholidays web site. It is also known that the Microsoft Network is considering a UK or European version of its Expedia full-service travel site.

"Things such as Expedia are a threat, but the market will continue to grow," said Lawson. He has the advantage of a brand with a loyal following among a large number of UK consumers, many of whom have purchased in response to advertising on Teletext.

And Teletext is also using the web itself. Currently, its site (www.teletext.co.uk) runs the same material as Teletext's travel section on TV. It allows users to browse the ads more easily, and offers links to advertisers' web sites.

But, crucially for advertisers in a sector such as travel and holidays, especially UK-based holidays, the site offers access to an international audience they couldn't easily reach before.

Another advantage Teletext enjoys in the travel sector is that the marketplace has grown up around the service.

Fierce competition, advance purchase of capacity by travel operators, a tendency towards oversupply, and the product's highly perishable nature, together with a growing trend by consumers to buy later, have combined to produce something approaching a 'dealing-floor' mentality in the industry.

"Suppliers change their prices very dynamically, in response to the market - often every few hours," said Lawson. The most effective medium for getting those prices quickly into the marketplace has until now been Teletext.

It is a unique position he intends to protect.

"We see ourselves as delivering an audience to advertisers across as many different electronic media and platforms as are appropriate," he said.

Lawson is confident that the strength of the Teletext brand will continue to attract the consumer: "We invest tens of millions of pounds on editorial to bring in the audience. And it is tremendously loyal. People who have bought off Teletext say they would do so again. They would trust that brand on the web, but also on digital television."



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