For years, networks have been looking for ways to prevent viewers from skipping commercials, and also trying to prove to advertisers that their spots directly result in consumer purchases. Now AMC Networks thinks it has found a way to simultaneously accomplish both.
The company is partnering with mobile ad-tech company ACTV8me for a new data-driven offering in which inaudible audio on some of its linear ads will trigger customized offers—like coupons, digital currency, reward points, website links, trailers or other promotions—that will be sent to viewers via an app on their smartphones.
Not only will the offering, which AMC Networks is selling in this year’s upfront, give audiences an incentive to watch ads on live and delayed linear programs, but the technology presents brands with new ways to connect with viewers, and track engagement from the initial impression all the way through to a completed transaction.
“This capability allows us to go beyond attribution to really drive engagement and activation,” said Adam Gaynor, vp of AMCN Agility, the standalone group AMC Networks created in March to oversee its data offerings for clients. “We’ve always said from the get-go, the goal of AMCN Agility is to develop a suite of products that help advertisers connect more with consumers.”
AMCN Agility will combine the technology with its Aurora Video Targeting Solutions platform for advanced audience segmenting and targeting, to help brands target consumers for the spots. Gaynor said it will be offered across all five networks: AMC, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and BBC America.
The company will soft-launch the technology “shortly,” said Gaynor. “We’ll be ready this year to run these ads and provide the value to the advertisers.”
To receive the offers, viewers will have to download the Mobii app, which runs in the background and does not require the active participation of an app like Shazam.
“There’s an education period that’s important,” said Gaynor, who will utilize AMC Networks’ various “touchpoints” to get the message about Mobii out to viewers, who can then save the offers into their Apple or Google mobile wallet, and redeem them online or in-store.
AMC Networks is the first company to roll out these interactive ads, which evolved from previous ACTV8me modules. The first module involved second-screen, trivia-centric apps, and launched with “most of the major networks,” said Brian Shuster, ACTV8me founder and CEO. “We learned that when you give consumers real discountable value when they’re watching television, that we should focus on unlocking that with the ads.”
That led to the next iteration, a “shop while you watch” module with Univision, which unlocks products that are featured in the show and gives consumers the option to buy them.
Shuster said he created the ACTV8me apps to prevent consumers from fast-forwarding ads. “I thought, there is no greater way to get a consumer to watch an ad than to actually give them a reward from the brand that incites them or excites them to engage with the product,” he said.
Brands will be able to use the technology to track purchase intent (if the viewer saves an offer to their mobile wallet), how long it took for the viewers to redeem that offer and whether it occurred in-store or online.
“We track the consumer’s engagement, then we track their intent, and then we can actually tell the advertiser how many people were excited enough about the offer that they actually closed the transaction. So the first time ever, we can tell purchase intent and actual purchase triggered initially from a television commercial,” said Shuster.
As AMC Networks launches the new technology, it won’t be offering performance-based guarantees like A+E Networks is doing during this upfront. But Gaynor said the company could shift to that strategy down the road.
“We look at it as being able to provide value after the spots run, not just by running the spot,” said Gaynor.
The technology is “a wallet insertion tool, which is one of the greatest paths that a brand can walk down today. Starbucks has created a phenomenon where about 9 million people walk through their stores every week and use their mobile device to transact in a Starbucks. So every brand is sitting there, going, how do I get consumers to engage with my brand and their mobile wallet?” said Shuster.
The ACTV8me CEO said the partnership is also key because at some point, “the old paper currency will go away. It’s just a matter of time, and this gives brands the opportunity to build the relationship with the consumers via their mobile wallet, using mass media.”