ConnecTV announces new ad network with “second screen” experience

ConnecTV, based in Emeryville, CA, is launching a new kind of advertising network that will enable brands to enhance their television commercials by delivering a second-screen experience to smartphones and tablets.

Ad Sync technology recognizes the spot airing on TV — for, say, a feature film — and then delivers information to the portable devices in the room about the nearest theaters screening the film.

“TV Words,” another feature, allows advertisers to buy key terms. Anytime a particular name or phrase is spoken on television, a related ad pops up on a smartphone, tablet or computer running ConnecTV’s free app.

A consortium of television station group owners that invested in ConnecTV — including Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting and Hearst Television Inc. — has agreed to participate in the ConnecTV Ad Sync network. These media companies control more than 200 local affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the CW.

“TV advertising is purely passive. There is no action you can do in the living room around advertising,” Guy Finley, executive director of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance trade group, told the Los Angeles Times. “The idea that we can have something that’s interactive, that connects these dots without it being some cumbersome or laborious process ... that’s what’s revolutionary.”

The move to connect primary and secondary screens comes after growing evidence of a digital bridge between these devices. Nielsen found that 85 percent of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices while watching TV at least once a month. As many as 40 percent do so daily, the measurement company found.

In addition to ConnecTV, Zeebox, Shazam Entertainment and Yahoo Inc.’s IntoNow also offer smartphone and tablet applications that identify TV shows and deliver supplementary content to this second, smaller screens. ConnecTV and others have also begun to compete for a share of the money that brands spend on television advertising in the U.S.

The Times reported that WiOffer, based in New York City, is using Audible Magic Corp.’s audio recognition technology to listen to television and radio advertising and deliver special offers such as coupons. Shazam, the app best known for identifying songs it hears, has been adapted to identify and deliver supplemental content for television shows and commercials.

”With viewers skipping more than half of the ads on TV, our new ad network and ConnecTV’s companion TV marketing experience makes TV ads more relevant, interactive and DVR-proof,“ ConnecTV co-founder and chief executive Ian Aaron told the Times.

The newspaper reported that the television station group owners that invested in ConnecTV gain another screen to monetize. These media companies could reap the economic benefit of national ads sold on the ConnecTV platform. Meanwhile, the local stations and their ad representatives will be able to sell a percentage of the second-screen ad inventory and keep the revenue.

Roger Keating, senior vice president of digital media at Hearst Corp., told the Times that television commercials remain the most powerful ad medium. But it wouldn’t hurt to sprinkle a little ”digital pixie dust“ on the venerable 30-second TV spot, he said.