A new mobile app platform called WiO is set to revolutionize the TV watching experience by allowing customers to immediately get information about the products and services they see advertised on screen, both in TV commercials and within the shows themselves.
Through a mobile app running on customers’ phones, marketers can offer a variety of follow-up actions to the TV viewer, including coupons, reminders, contact info and more. In total, there are 10 follow-up actions offered. And the consumer is in complete control of which ones, if any, they respond to.
The company behind WiO, WiOffer, is the creation of Andrew Pakula and Matthew Greene, both of whom have experience working in and with major media, tech and digital marketing firms, including DoubleClick, Yahoo and Ogilvy. This experience, Pakula explains, has allowed them to learn a lot about what customers respond to and how.
How the WiO-Enabled TV Commercials Work
Before a customer can use the WiO app, the commercial or TV show has to first be WiO-enabled. To do this, the advertiser sends WiOffer their asset – that is, their commercial or the portion of the show where the product placement is visible and/or mentioned by the characters within the program. Using the clip as a digital ID, the mobile WiO app running on customers’ phones can then “hear” when the commercial plays and pop up a screen offering more information.
There are 10 different options a customer can choose from, some of which are subject to what the advertiser is providing. These include access to coupons, PDF brochures, app downloads, website addresses, retail locators, contact information, calendar events, reminders and even one option which will auto-dial the advertiser directly, in the case of TV commercials where a phone number is displayed. The unique thing about connecting TV to the mobile platform in this way is how many of these tasks are automated. For example, choosing the reminders, calendar event or contact info options will instantly save that information to a customer’s phone, with no manual effort required on the customer’s part.
In addition, when coupons are provided, the customer can save these “WiOffers” on their phone, where they will be accessible until the expiration date. To use a coupon, the customer just has to show their phone to the retailer.
Meanwhile, on the advertisers’ side, metrics surrounding customer response can be tracked in real-time, allowing them to adjust their advertising and offers on the fly to boost engagement, as need be.
Competition in the New TV Landscape
WiO is not the only company with this same idea. The music identification app Shazam recently raised funds to push into television. Some TV shows and ads now tell viewers to “Shazam” them in order to receive bonus content and discounts, AllThingsD reports. Another company, IntoNow, uses audio recognition to encourage users to “check in” to what they’re watching on TV. GetGlue offers something similar. Even Microsoft is getting into the action with its NUads advertising platform, which uses the voice and gesture control in its Kinect for Xbox 360 to create interactive TV ads.
But unlike with Xbox, WiO is device agnostic, Greene says. He insists that WiO is different than the so-called “social apps,” too. Even though WiO allows for sharing to Facebook, Twitter, SMS and email, its goal is not to socialize the TV-watching experience. “Check-ins are a bit of distraction,” says Greene, “if not an enormous distraction.” And, referring to Shazam, he claims the idea of connecting a music app to actual transactions is a bit complicated. The Shazam ads point you to a mobile landing page, he notes. WiO aims to connect the brand directly to the customer so they can start talking immediately.
The WiO app will launch in a few weeks, first on iPhone. It will arrive on Android 60 days later. The company says it can’t comment on its advertising partners at this time, but from what we saw, there are some well-known brands in talks with the company now.