Looking for an alternative buzz-phrase to 2screen? How about augmented content? That’s the trend picked out by Ed White, who writes about the intersection of consumer culture, brands and technology for Contagious Magazine, and is speaking at this year’s MIPCube.
« 68% of 18-23 year-olds use Twitter, Facebook and other services on their mobile phones to discuss what they’re watching, » says White. « A lot of young millennials are interested in socialising around TV, and there are some lovely opportunities for brands and broadcasters within that. »
One example of augmented content is Heineken’s Star Player iPhone app (cf. our interview with the agency behind it, here), designed to be used while watching Champions League football matches on TV. Players are prompted to predict what happens next throughout the match, scoring points if they’re correct, and competing against other users on high-score tables. « The experience of watching that match has been gamified and made better by Heineken, » says White. « It’s subverting the traditional sponsorship model of a banner billboard at the side of the pitch, and putting them right in the middle of the user experience for 90 minutes. »
White was also impressed by last year’s Pepsi Sound Off campaign in the US. The content being augmented in this case was The X Factor USA, with the Sound Off site providing fans with a place to chat about the show after they logged in with their Twitter or Facebook accounts. « The most popular comments were integrated back into the adverts around the show, » says White. « It’s a wonderful feedback loop: take part on Sound Off and you can see your name in the ads around the content. And the social chatter about Pepsi during the X Factor run was unusually high and unusually positive. »
White is also following efforts to forge links between e-commerce and content, including TV shows. He cites two examples, both from November 2011. eBay added a feature to its iPad app enabling people to browse and buy products related to whatever TV show they were watching at the time. Meanwhile, mobile discovery app Shazam worked with TV e-commerce company Delivery Agent and US network NBCUniversal on a campaign around the latter’s spy drama Covert Affairs. « Viewers could Shazam the show and buy the clothes they were seeing on-screen, » says White. « This is shortening the retail funnel, and spurring purchases at the moment when people are thinking about a particular brand. »
White is also keeping a keen eye on some of the technologies and concepts that will be affecting the way people interact with TV shows in a few years’ time. For example, the rumoured inclusion of facial and emotion recognition technology in the next version of Microsoft’s Kinect. « What happens when your TV recognises who you are and how you’re feeling? » he says. « Also, as a broadcaster or producer, if you know what someone’s feeling about your show, can you plug that back into the feedback to make programming more relevant and interesting? »
He also praises MasterCard’s QkR platform, which was first shown off in September 2011. Among its features is the ability to process payments based on a TV viewer’s physical gestures, using Kinect to detect them. « You’ll be able to swipe as you’re seeing something on TV, and get a menu asking ‘Do you want to buy this?’. It’s a lovely way of integrating commerce straight into the content experience, » he says.
> This is the full version of the interview that appears in the MIPCube Preview magazine: out now! & read all the interviews with our future-shaping speakers here.
> Entertainment technology blogger Stuart Dredge (The Guardian, The Appside, Music Ally) will be liveblogging for MIPBlog during MIPCube and MIPTV. Watch this space…