ConnecTV unveils second screen ad network with Google-like keyword targeting

By Cory Bergman 

Second screen startup ConnecTV has always called itself a “social TV network,” and today it unveiled the advertising side of the equation: two new products that serve marketing messages on mobile devices in sync with both live and DVR’d TV. Advertisers can choose to have messages appear the moment their TV spot airs — or even when there’s a specific mention of a related keyword on air.

“Interactive TV and interactive advertising isn’t going to happen on the TV screen, it’s going to happen on the second screen,” explains ConnecTV CMO and Co-Founder Stacy Jolna, who was also a member of TiVo’s founding executive team. “We’re really excited about paving this new path.”

Jolna offered the movie Skyfall as an example. With Ad Sync, whenever a Skyfall ad airs on TV, a companion ad will appear in sync inside the ConnecTV app. Tapping the ad will open an interactive experience to check for movie times near you, watch a trailer — and even buy a ticket straight from the app.

With TV Words, a Skyfall ad would trigger when Daniel Craig is introduced on a late night talk show, for example. “We’ve created a deep, broad database of TV keywords that surround advertising, TV programming and movies,” Jolna explains, adding the ad could also trigger for mentions of James Bond or 007. The “Google-like experience” is tied to a content recognition system that analyzes audio, programming schedules, ad serving systems and closed captioning.

The ads are delivered “in seconds” after the TV ad begins to air, Jolna said. If a viewer is watching on a DVR and skips a commercial break with an Ad Sync ad, ConnecTV will display the ad anyway. “In a way, we’re also DVR proof,” Jolna says, noting his days at TiVo contemplating the ad-skipping dilemma.

The ads will be sold by both ConnecTV and its broadcast partners — ten local TV groups representing nearly 250 stations across the country with an aggregate sales force of more than 2,000 local sales executives.

“Broadcasters have been in business for more than half a century because we help local businesses build relationships with our viewers in their communities,” said Pat LaPlatney, VP Digital Media and Business Development at Raycom Media. “ConnecTV’s new ad sync platform enables us to deepen those relationships and offers viewers the ability to act on the ads that are most relevant to them.”

For example, a Ford dealer could serve a synchronized ad that enables viewers to schedule a test drive. Or viewers can set a “Watch List” alert for a newscast after watching an on-air promo.

At a national level, ConnecTV is offering a “charter advertising” program to start, offering brands the ability to “customize companion-marketing experiences, lead detailed second screen research panels, and be able to prioritize their TV Words within the network,” the company said.

The synchronized ads will appear in ConnecTV’s app to start, but Jolna says that the technology can be extended into third-party apps ranging from phones and tablets to smart TVs. He said ConnecTV is close to announcing a relationship with “two major national broadcast companies,” and it’s in discussions with major international retailers and consumer electronics companies. The partnerships would bring much-needed scale to its ad network.