February 2, 2012 – 10:56 am
While most social TV apps are still focusing on building an audience base, Shazam and IntoNow have both been working on driving ad revenues for the past year. The two will get their biggest test yet on whether social TV apps can advance marketers' messages during this Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI broadcast.
For the most part, marketers and agency execs say that social TV apps don't have nearly enough scale yet among consumers to have a perceptible impact on brand advertising. Shazam, which has been downloaded by 175 million people across 200 countries and claims to add another 1.5 million new users each week, and IntoNow, which after only a year in operation last month passed the 2 million download mark, aim to prove that connecting advertising to TV viewers using their smartphones and tablets can have actually move the needle.
We're listening: The two apps both use audio fingerprinting to identify media. Although it's been around for a decade, Shazam achieved most of attention after 2007, when it became recognized as an iPhone that was able to recognize music after "hearing" a few snippets. Over the past year, it has moved heavily into TV and has been used by advertisers such as American Honda, Paramount Pictures, Progressive, Starbucks and Pillsbury during primetime programming.
IntoNow, which was acquired by Yahoo for between $20- and $30 million last spring, began working with Pepsi Max as an advertiser early on in its existence. The Pepsi brand is being integrated with IntoNow's extensive offerings around the Super Bowl, which are clearly intended to showcase the Yahoo property as more than just a "TV check-in" app by presenting viewers with game stats, related player and team info as well as Twitter integration.
Shazam, meanwhile, has been able to attract deals that make almost half of all the Super Bowl TV ads Shazam-able -- when the app is clicked during an ad, it opens up to additional content and special offers.
Check-in and stay: The problem that advertisers see with social TV apps is that a consumer may check-in to a program and then leave the app. A fraction of the viewers may comment after the show or during a commercial break. Mobile phone and tablet use during TV viewing tends to be limited to tweeting or discussing the show with friends on Facebook. But for the most part, the view is that consumers will not turn their attention to advertisers during a show that they're truly engaged with.
Still, the value of social TV, whether its through intermediaries and apps like GetGlue, Miso, or Facebook and Twitter usage directly, is that viewers are providing real-time audience measurement. In many cases, the networks and advertisers have been trying to mine that data and connect with users directly.
Lost Remote's Natan Edelsburg has a terrific rundown of what brands such as Coca-Cola, Kia, Acura and Chevy are doing in terms of social media features around their respective Super Bowl ads.
In addition, NBCSports.com, which is streaming the game live online for the first time, is working with Mass Relevance on features such as Twitter Q&A. And as Mashable's Sam Laird reported, this past week, Super Bowl XLVI host city Indianapolis began operating a "social media command center" with strategists, analysts and others monitoring the fan conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. The game will be flooded with social media takes from every conceivable corner.
Turning all that activity into advertising dollars, however, is a more difficult proposition.
Both Shazam and IntoNow are using contests and promises of more interesting content to get users to stick around and, hopefully, pay a little more attention to the advertisers.
Is it Shazamble?: People who use Shazam during the Super Bowl broadcast will receive discount offers, get free music downloads, can enter sweepstakes contests, vote on the ads, participate in game polls.
And if the game and commercials get boring, users will also be prompted to buy music, purchase either New England Patriots' or New York Giants' merchandise including hats to jerseys and much more from Shazam’s mobile storeshare their experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and even get the chance to donate money to a charity through the Shazam for TV feature.
But it's the Shazamable ads that is the main focus here. The Shazam-enabled ads include:
-- Toyota: the ad will include a sweepstake to win two Camrys (one for you, one for someone you really, really like?).
-- Best Buy – This one features two of Shazam's founders. The electronics retail chain is also running a $50 gift card offer for consumers looking to buy and activate a mobile phone in 2012 when they tag the ad.
-- Cars.com – when viewers use Shazam to tag the ad, Cars.com will donate $1.00 to one of seven charities, up to a maximum $100,000.
-- Pepsi – the new ad that features X-Factor winner Melanie Amaro performing the soul classic Respect will invite people to unlock a free video.
-- Teleflora – viewers who tag Teleflora’s “Give” ad starring model Adriana Lima will receive a "secret offer."
The other "Shazamable" commercials include spots from GE, Relativity’s new Navy Seals action-thriller, Act of Valor, and Disney’s upcoming movie John Carter.
With that covered, Shazam also has a special showcase for the halftime show with Bud Light. When people use Shazam to tag the performance, they can unlock exclusive content and experience more by the Interscope artists performing.
The year of social TV?: There is a natural skepticism that the social TV apps have to overcome. Do viewers really want a specific app to engage with when they're online and watching TV? Do advertisers regard the marketing opportunity these apps offer as a mere extension of TV advertising, and therefore simply a small add-on to what they're already spending on network TV? Or does social TV present a related, yet separate experience, one that can provide a clearer, deeper connection between consumers and brands?
It's hard to say right now. But the answers will certainly emerge over the next few months.
"We definitely think 2012 will be there year of social TV and the space will experience even more innovations," Adam Cahan, founder of IntoNow and a Yahoo VP, told TVExchanger in an interview. "The single most popular time that people use their iPad is when they watch TV – roughly 40 percent of the time that people are using their iPad, they’re watching TV. So this really is a completely new consumer behavior that has no precedent. And the fact that people are more and more likely to use a mobile device when watching TV naturally opens up new experiences for TV networks and advertisers."
With marketers spending between $3.5- and $4 million for a 30-second spot during this year's Super Bowl broadcast, and a good six figures for the streaming ads on NBCSports' site, the amount of ad dollars going to social TV apps is a fraction. But the experience this time will be picked over for months.
It's very likely that the numbers will be encouraging to social TV apps. After all, the Super Bowl can expect 100 million TV viewers. Certainly a sizable fraction will be interested to check out at least some of the social TV executions. But the bigger question in all this is whether it will inspire them to be more engaged with the TV ads -- or less. One thing is sure, given the amount of data that will be picked over after this Sunday's broadcast, if you start seeing more social TV advertising the next few months, you'll know it was the Super Bowl, in large part, that unlocked those dollars.
By David Kaplan
February 2, 2012 – 10:56 am