By David Dorf on May 28, 2013
After the kids are in bed, my wife and I like to watch a little TV. But these days I can't just watch TV -- I also need the iPad on my lap allowing me to surf at the same time. Most movies and shows just can't keep my full attention, so I'm also reading articles, shopping, or catching up on emails. I'll hit IMDB to figure out the name of an actor, or Wikipedia to learn a little more than was explained on the show, or even look up the details on a car I just saw.
This use of a second screen opens interesting possibilities in the advertising world. From an overt perspective, advertisers need to figure out how to connect their TV commercials to the Web better, where viewers can learn more about their products. From a covert perspective, advertisers need to capitalize on product placement within shows that lead people to the internet to purchase. This can be accomplished by viewers who want to do the work, but that's probably not the majority.
A couple weeks ago there were rumors that Shazam was going to remove the friction by synchronizing Web content with TV content using sound as a marker. Although they are making connections with tags, they aren't yet ready for seamless integration. VideoSurf is taking a crack at synchronization using still photos. Snap a picture of the TV while The Office is on, and dive into information on Rainn Wilson. Both companies are showing promise for connecting entertainment directly to the Web via mobile devices.
This is all going to get much easier once the XBox One is released. The long-awaited merging of living room entertainment and the PC may finally arrive. It won't be long before you're pausing a show to buy the shoes the actress is wearing without the need for a second screen. You'll be barking commands at your TV like, "XBox, where can I buy that tie?" or "XBox, are there tickets available for that concert?" Heck, with Kinect the mere gesture of reaching for your wallet may be enough to launch an e-commerce site.
It looks like 2014 may be the year where e-commerce and entertainment cross paths. The best retailers will find ways to make advertising intriguing and let the Web set the hook. This one-two-punch could change advertising forever.