Apps and tweets watch you watch TV

20 Jul 2011

ITEM: Smartphone apps and social networks could help television programmers and advertisers better engage with audiences.

One of the disadvantages of broadcast television’s nature as a one-way medium has always been the lack of feedback and context. Ratings agencies can tell you roughly how many people watch a given show, but they can’t tell you what people were doing at the time or what they actually think about the show while they watch.

Similarly, ratings tell TV advertisers how many households were watching a show during which their ad appeared, but not if anyone’s actually paying attention to it.

In the latter case, advertisers have been turning to mobile apps like Shazam, the music-ID service where you can use your smartphone to “listen” to a song playing in a café (for example) and find out the name of the song and the artist and how to buy a copy.

Shazam also sports a TV tagging feature. When a TV ad appears with the Shazam logo on it, users can activate the Shazam app on their smartphone, which “hears” the ad and delivers relevant links, downloads, contests, coupons, etc from the advertiser to the phone. The same technology can also be used for actual TV shows as well.

Big-name advertisers like Starbucks, Procter & Gamble and American Express have been using Shazam, as have cable TV networks Bravo, Oxygen and Syfy.

"Fundamentally [these apps] give you a way to quantify engagement in an environment where there haven't been many metrics others than ratings or call center calls," Sloan Broderick, director-innovations for MediaCom tells Ad Age.

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