March 8, 2013 – ConnecTV provides an early example of a second-screen app making headway with broadcasters around the combination of socialization and localization with advertising emerging as a key component of the strategy.
ConnecTV has built a beachhead for monetization as an app running on broadcast stations and sports networks, now adding up to over 400 channels nationwide, according to CEO Ian Aaron. The company’s ACR system employs fingerprinting, speech-to-text translation, metadata creation and other “secret sauce” components to enrich the social communications around viewing, Aaron says.
These techniques serve not only to sync up viewers on second screens with the first screen. They also drive messaging and apps in coordination with specific events happening on another show at that moment in time, such as a loud cheer in a football game that prompts a message to someone not watching a game that a team just scored or the entrance of a big star on a talk show that prompts an alert to fans watching other programs.
“We’re building an audience of engaged viewers who use our app to make it easy to communicate with friends about what they’re watching through their social networks,” Aaron says. “We think facilitating socialization of the viewing experience is the strongest app for second screen. Too much content immersion takes away from the ten-foot experience. We’ve seen some of the best content for the second app is the chat that takes place around content, so we use the content to enhance social conversation.”
Aaron says ConnecTV has been rapidly adding broadcast affiliates since November 2011, when it announced its core partner base of over 200 local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW and other affiliate stations controlled by Pearl, a consortium of nine broadcast station groups, including Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media. The ConnecTV strategy wins high praise from participants.
“Television programming is driving the social media conversation, but those conversations continue to be fragmented across myriad platforms and provide little local context,” notes Alan Frank, president and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations. “We see ConnecTV as a way for our communities to come together in a single, standardized digital extension of our broadcast platforms, and engage in dialogue around the information and entertainment most relevant to them.”
Viewers of programming offered by participating networks are prompted to download the ConnecTV app, which aids them in creating communities of friends who are fans of any given show. “There are 350 friends on average per Facebook user,” Aaron notes. “You want to know who your program-specific friends are and then to create your own community for viewing parties and sharing information.”
Local relevance is essential, he adds. Social conversations sparked locally by on-air personalities and station production staff surrounding news, sports and entertainment topics of the day along with instant “talkback” social polls are part of the mix of special companion content, he says.
On the advertising side, ConnecTV has just introduced a Web-like ad networking model for TV. With the building of an ever larger audience engaged with ConnecTV apps the company believes its new ConnecTV Ad Sync program will enhance the monetization opportunities for its affiliates as well as drive revenues for ConnecTV.
“Our focus has been on building scale and driving downloads,” Aaron says. “With the Ad Sync network we’re providing a means for delivering a contextual opportunity for the audience to see more information. If it’s a Ford truck ad we know which model it is and can provide locally relevant information with the second-screen content.”
ConnecTV Ad Sync allows brands to synchronize a companion experience with their TV spots, delivering the ability for viewers to instantly buy what they see, get promotional offers, enter contests, find the nearest store, receive marketing alerts, watch related product videos, schedule viewing reminders and more, Aaron says. In addition, he notes, ConnecTV has implemented a Words program with Ad Sync whereby advertisers can expand their inventory across all channels by triggering second-screen messaging whenever a purchased word shows up in a program being watched by someone who has downloaded the app.
This allows brands to create new inventory that is relevant to what a viewer is watching in real time. With an aggregate sales force of more than 2,000 local representatives across the country, the ConnecTV affiliates are well positioned to exploit these capabilities, Aaron adds.
“Broadcasters have been in business for more than half a century because we help local businesses build relationships with our viewers in their communities,” says Pat LaPlatney, vice president of digital Media and business development at Raycom Media. “ConnecTV’s new Ad Sync platform enables us to deepen those relationships.”
Listing examples of how viewers can act on ads most relevant to them, he says, “In the market for a new car? Schedule a test drive at your local dealer – while you’re watching the ad. A promo for a news story catch your interest? Add your local news to your Watch List for an instant tune-in alert on ConnecTV.”
With its move into advertising against a growing footprint ConnnecTV should soon offer the industry a window into how ready consumers are to make second-screen monetization a reality. Broadcasters have a lot to gain if they do.