News Column

Super Bowl Ads Will Blitz Your Phone

Jan. 30, 2012

Richard Mullins

TAMPA -- If you watch the Super Bowl mainly for the commercials, you may want to grab your smartphone or iPad during the show -- and during every other show from now on, too.

One in three commercials during the Super Bowl will be "Shazamable," meaning new mobile apps like Shazam and IntoNow can listen to the TV audio, identify the program and deliver live game stats, Facebook feeds from friends and probably links to uncensored versions of commercials, too.

Chevy even plans to give Camaros to some lucky app users who check in during the Feb. 5 NBC broadcast.

It's a big opportunity for advertisers.

Early research shows at least 70 percent of tablet owners regularly plop on the couch to watch TV with tablets in hand and consider the devices a nightly TV companion that's as indispensible as the remote control or a bag of chips.

"It's almost like our smartphones are becoming cognitive prosthetics, like an artificial leg, but for our brains watching TV," said Phil Leigh, an independent digital media analyst in Tampa.

"Brands really love that because it can take almost anything you're doing and turn it into an interaction or transaction." One of the most advanced apps, IntoNow, comes from Yahoo and works on Apple and Android mobile platforms.

With a tap on the screen, the free app uses the phone or tablet microphone to listen to the TV audio and identify TV shows, live or recorded, from the past five years or so.

"If you're watching a Green Bay game, the app will automatically pull in any breaking news about players like Aaron Rodgers," said Adam Cahan, CEO of IntoNow, which Yahoo acquired last summer.

"You can see what's going on around the league or dive deep into what's going on with one player. It's an amazing way for people to participate with a game."

With dramas or comedies, the app lets viewers interact more personally.

For instance, if the app hears you're watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," it displays information about the show from IMDB.com, the Internet movie database, and Twitter feeds from actors like Charlie Day and Danny DeVito.

During one recent "Sunny" episode, the app showed a tweet from actress Kaitlin Olson, who plays Dee Reynolds, about Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly turning down the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "You don't just walk away from what we have. #goducks."

The app can link to viewers' own Twitter and Facebook accounts, letting them find which friends are online and what they're watching.

"When people were watching CNN, and Rick Perry dropped out of the race, we automatically started feeding in news about him from other sources," Cahan said. As with many free apps, there's an advertising tie-in.

The IntoNow app recently ran a deal where "Jersey Shore" fans loyal enough to tag each show in real time were entered into a contest for a party with the show's resident bad girl Snooki.

Also, in a partnership with Pepsi, viewers could tag Pepsi ads to receive an on-screen coupon for a free drink from a drugstore.

Yahoo's technology is similar to the app that started the audio tagging genre -- Shazam -- and works on Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and other systems.

Launched 2002, the Shazam app can listen to music and identify songs -- even in loud parties or bars. Shazam recently expanded with tie-ins to TV ads. "Shazamable TV" is the term taking off in advertising circles.

The first campaign was for Dockers and featured a horrible singer, walking in a grassy field in his underwear, squawking, "I wear no pants!"

Shazam implored viewers to use their phones to "Shazam that guy," which delivered up special offers for Dockers. Since then, Shazam has done more than 50 TV ad campaigns.

A current TurboTax ad has a small crawler at the bottom urging people to Shazam the ad for a free download of the tax software.

"One of our core value propositions is that this is the music service that 180-million-plus people know and love," said Evan Krauss, executive vice president of global advertising sales for Shazam.

Recently, Shazam did a campaign for Axe deodorant's "Premature Perspiration" commercial. It was only 15 seconds long on TV, but Shazam found that was enough time for its young audience to play along.

"Eighteen-year-old boys are pretty quick," Krauss said.

Another new app, Viggle, can recognize TV shows and let viewers accumulate points for watching, with rewards including a $5 gift card for places like Burger King, iTunes and CVS. Meanwhile, premium channel Showtime produced an app that merges social media with shows like "Dexter," "Weeds" and "Californication." Individual brands also are getting in on the action.

Nielsen recently published a study that found Apple iPad owners keep their tablets in their laps about 70 percent of the time as they watch TV, which represents 30 percent of the time they use the tablets.

Smartphone and e-reader owners weren't far behind, keeping their devices on the couch with them 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

With that potential, General Motors' Chevrolet has an ad campaign during the Super Bowl this year with an app that lets viewers play along with the game and enter to win a Camaro by answering live trivia questions.

Providing a feedback loop, app users can create virtual license plates before the game, and if Chevy picks that plate to promote during the Super Bowl, contestants can win a car.

Both Cahan at IntoNow and Krauss at Shazam say a logical next step is enabling more click-and-buy features inside their apps, potentially with movie trailers and home shopping channels like QVC and HSN.

Viewers could watch the shows and as the app tags the audio, it could automatically bring them to a page to buy the item immediately.



Source: (c)2012 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)


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