For years, viewers have found creative ways to ignore TV ads — some switch channels, some record shows and fast forward through ads later, but lately many TV viewers have taken to “tuning out” by turning to conversations happening on second-screen applications during ad breaks. Now brands will have a new way to connect with audiences during commercial breaks, by inserting messages into users’ Twitter streams while their ads show on TV. Startup SecondScreen Networks is rolling out a new product called SyncTweet that can automatically send Tweets during commercial breaks with the hashtag of the show that viewers are watching.
So just for example: Let’s say you’re watching Glee, and it’s time for a commercial break. Rather than paying attention to what’s happening on the screen, like most red-blooded technophiles, you pick up your smartphone and see what other Gleeks are tweeting about the show. You might not be watching when a Pepsi ad appears on the screen, but you might see when Pepsi’s Twitter account sends a related message with the hashtag #Glee.
The whole thing works because SecondScreen has built technology to ingest live TV feeds in real time, identify ad spots and automatically serve messages into companion environments for TV shows, like network websites or second-screen applications. SecondScreen can sync up banner ads that appear on show sites with ads on-screen, serve companion ads into network mobile applications, or now connect those ads with messages that show up on Twitter.
SecondScreen previously had shown how its technology works, with a proof-of-concept trial at American Idol fan site AmericanIdolNet.com during the series finale last season. In that trial run, it matched up display ads on the site with ads that were running during the live airing of the show.
SecondScreen CEO Seth Tapper told us in a phone interview that the startup is working with brands and social media agencies to roll out SyncTweets with the start of the fall TV season. Tapper said SecondScreen has three major brands on board already, but wouldn’t disclose who they were. The product will be sold on a cost-per-action basis, meaning SecondScreen Networks will make money anytime Twitter users click through hyperlinks included in the auto-tweeted messages.