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    Sometime this month, Coco’s getting his own app. And like the Harvard-educated funnyman, this app’s going to be pretty clever.

    As part of a major push by Turner’s entertainment networks to embrace second-screen viewing and smart TVs, TBS is planning to introduce complementary content and eventually ad messages to a slew of its shows, starting with a tablet app designed to be accessed during episodes of TBS’ Conan.

    Using audio recognition technology similar to that employed by the popular smartphone app Shazam, each episode of Conan will be fingerprinted. As a result, users of the new Conan app (which is being sponsored by AT&T) will be periodically greeted with pop-ups within the app featuring information relevant to the show, such as facts about a guest’s movie career.

    And soon enough, viewers will be able to buy tickets to those guests’ movies via the app. At a mini conference centered on media convergence held at the Time Warner Center in New York on Wednesday, Turner executives showed a mock-up of potential Conan commerce integration. During a demo clip, as actress Ellie Kemper of Bridesmaids sat down with host Conan O'Brien, viewers were prompted to purchase tickets to the movie via the Conan app.

    The Bridesmaids example was theoretical, but Dennis Adamovich, Turner’s svp of brand and digital activation, said that such ad integrations would be available during the upcoming TV upfront. So will Turner’s new daily deals offerings. Starting this April, viewers watching shows like TBS staple Everybody Loves Raymond will start seeing daily offers pop up on the bottom of their screen—provided they are one of the first to purchase a new line of smart/connected TVs from Vizio and other manufacturers.

    TBS and TNT also plan to start building ads into its companion apps for The Big Bang Theory and Leverage tied to TV spots airing during those shows. For example, ads for advertisers like Twizzlers or Little Caesars could prompt viewers to provide their email address or phone number via the companion app to receive a quick coupon.

    Clearly, Turner is looking to establish itself as a leader in adopting smart TV technology, and particularly ads that leverage audio fingerprinting. “We think this is a transformative technology,” said Adamovich. “We think this is going to redefine how viewers watch and interact with TV.” For now, that interaction requires viewers to do so via an app. But nearly all of the examples Turner presented on Wednesday could be ported to the TV screen itself, once enough smart TVs are installed, offered Adamovich.

    There's little question that social TV as well as companion tablet viewing are taking off among consumers. However, it remains to be seen how many Americans are ready, or even know about the promise of connected TVs. And there’s also the risk of couponing TV viewers to death—and turning the ultimate branding vehicle into a banner ad-filled direct-response medium.

    But credit Turner for trying to learn, and lead. That was pretty much the point of Wednesday's event, the second of three planned conferences featuring buyers, sales executives and industry luminaries. “We are trying to understand the consumer marketplace,” said David Levy, TBS’ president of sales, distribution and sports. “People react to advertising differently on different screens, and we’re trying to figure out, ‘What is the next evolution of TV everywhere?’ and ‘Do you sell it differently?’ We’re learning with our partners. After all, I’m a brand, too.”

    Among the speakers on the docket helping Turner and its guest learn was noted author, journalist and NYU professor Clay Shirky, who warned the TV business to avoid ending up like the music business—which for too long fixated on things like audio quality and ignored its customers’ desire to have more control of their music-buying experience. Shirky noted that TV might be headed down the same path, pushing 3-D TVs when few consumers seem interested, while still making it difficult for users to find comprehensive, on-demand programing choices. “People don’t want to hear about things like rights windows,” he said.

    Shirky also urged TV executives to stop treating its viewers all the same. The 3,000 plus viewers who have contributed to the Dr. Who Wikipedia page are a different breed of super-engaged fans—and TV networks should cater to them (though Shirky neglected to say exactly how). “Mass is different than passion,” Shirky said. “All women 25-54 are not interchangeable.…[On the Web] you can’t make your most passionate viewers shut up. People love to talk to each other [about TV]. You should build an ecosystem that recognizes this.”


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    For those considering Rovio to be simply that Finnish company behind the Angry Birds mobile games, stop that right now. Rovio has been positioning itself as an entertainment company on the level of Disney—complete with an animation studio, theme park, book business and plush toys. And the company will look to solidify that stance when it launches the Angry Birds Toon video series on March 16 and 17.

    “We view ourselves as the media company for the connected device era,” said Michele Tobin, Rovio’s head of brand partnerships and advertising for the Americas. Considering that Angry Birds apps have been downloaded 1.7 billion times and reach 263 million monthly active users, Rovio has the stats to back up such a claim.

    In keeping with that Disney 3.0 position, Rovio will be distributing Angry Birds Toons through a new channel being added to the Angry Birds smartphone and tablet apps, as well as multiple video and TV distribution outlets. In the U.S, the new show—which goes into Angry Birds’ characters backstories on the fictional Piggy Island—will be available via Comcast’s Xfinity on-demand service and Samsung Smart TVs, and will eventually be available through Roku and other connected devices.

    However, Rovio’s YouTube Channel, which has received over a billion video views, will not be an initial distribution vehicle, but Tobin made it clear that the video platform could be in the cards for the future.

    Rovio had the option of following Netflix’s original content distribution strategy and dump the series all at once (a la House of Cards), but is instead adopting a more traditional scheduling system. A single 2 minute 45 second episode will air each weekend, first hitting TV on Saturday and then rolling out to the mobile and tablet Angry Birds apps on Sunday. The company, which has an Angry Birds full-length feature film in the works for 2016, has stockpiled 52 episodes in total and is “not ready to announce a new series at this time,” Tobin said.

    While the series will be distributed traditionally through TV network partners outside the U.S. (such as Cartoon Network in India), it begs the question of whether a Rovio TV network is in the works. “That’s not something we can talk about right now,” Tobin said. She also wouldn’t go into detail on whether Rovio feels the need to expand beyond the Angry Bird property. After all, Disney is way more than just Mickey.

    “The birds have legs. We have a very large, highly engaged audience, and we’re going to continue to give the fans what they want and also bring them new and exciting content,” Tobin said, citing a 97 percent brand awareness stat for the brand in China.

    Given the series’ potential reach (the apps have been downloaded by 263 million users), plus however many people will watch it on TV, it’s not surprising that advertisers have already signed on. Activision, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and BlackBerry are the series’ four launch brands, and “we are definitely going to bring on more advertisers” before all 52 episodes air," Tobin said.

     


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    While the storytelling medium of a television show may not have changed much, the way people tune in to their favorite programs has. Just 20 years ago, the patent for the first Internet-connected TV was filed in France. This year, more than 110 million U.S. adults watch a digital program using a connected TV.

    "Over the span of just 20 years, the experience of watching TV and the business of advertising on TV have changed significantly," Videology CEO Scott Ferber said. "This year,­ 20 years after the first patent for connected TV was filed, we wanted to take a look back and see what events have led us to where we are today. Television is now digital, and digital is now television, and one thing is for sure: When it comes to TV, the only constant is change."

    Take a look at television's journey over the last two decades from a Web-wired box to a digital portal, courtesy of Videology.

     


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    Networks will have to wait a few months longer for full access to Nielsen's new Total Audience Measurement data, but in the interim, the company is preparing to share more information about usage of connected TV devices like Roku and Apple TV.

    Nielsen announced today that beginning April 25, it will make brand-level data available from connected TV devices, including streaming video devices and game consoles—Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Xbox, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii—as well as enabled smart TVs.

    This will allow clients to track how many homes across the country own TV connected devices and which brands, and how those numbers grow over time. Clients will be able to determine how much time people spend with devices overall and link program viewing to those specific devices.

    The company is also creating a new metric called Total Use of Television (TUT), which adds connected TV usage to linear usage for what Nielsen calls "a complete view" of TV usage.

    "Our device breakout data will report how much viewing to a particular network, program, episode or telecast came from a particular device type or device brand for measured content," said Sara Erichson, evp, client solutions and audience insights.

    Erichson explained that many networks already have content measured by Nielsen coming through these devices. "Take, for example, the case of someone watching live TV on an Xbox," she said. "Today, this viewing would be added to a network's ratings, but no one knows how much of the overall viewing to a program is coming from that Xbox. Beginning next month, clients will be able to associate the portion of the viewing that is coming from individual brands of connected device."

    For SVOD programming of older episodes (i.e., shows airing on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon), clients who are already signed up for SVOD measurement will be able to associate that viewing with specific brands of connected TV devices.

    While April's rollout will pair connected devices with TV sets, Erichson said, "The next phase is identifying what apps are being accessed on these devices to get the content." She also noted that Nielsen already incorporates viewing from certain streaming devices—like CBS All Access—into its ratings.

    The brand-level TV connected device data will be available on a subscription basis only, but the Total Use of Television metrics will be available at no charge to clients, Erichson said.

    The data comes from Nielsen's TV panel, which the company recently doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 households for a total of 100,000 viewers. The panel includes more than 100,000 TV sets and more than 50,000 connected TV devices.

    It will also be included as part of Total Audience Measurement, the multiplatform measurement tool the company is in the process of rolling out. While individual networks and clients can currently see their own total audience data, Steve Hasker, global president and COO, told Adweek in this week's issue that the public rollout (when "everybody sees everything") has been delayed at least three months, to the end of the second quarter at the earliest. 

    Nielsen said that today's data announcement has been in the works for some time, and isn't connected to the delay in Total Audience Measurement's rollout.

    "I think it's the reality of working through the data with clients, getting them comfortable with the new data sets that they're seeing," said Hasker of the total audience delay. "That process … I don't know that we underestimated it, but we can never spend enough time with our clients analyzing that data, helping them understand it and figure out what sort of decisions it's going to lead to."

    The Total Audience Measurement metrics include almost all of the ways people view content: VOD, DVR, mobile, PC, tablet, connected TV devices (like Xbox, Apple TV and Roku), and linear TV. When those other platforms are factored in, said Hasker, "We're seeing in some cases audience lift of around 50 percent, but on average, we're seeing an audience lift of around 10 percent."


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    The next time you take a Carnival cruise, don't be surprised if the brand digitally tags you in photos taken aboard the ship.

    The Carnival Vista just finished making its first transatlantic trip and is docked in New York this week to show off what Carnival Cruise Line claims is its largest and most souped-up ship to date. Among the ship's high-tech amenities is a digital photo experience built by SapientNitro-owned Second Story that uses digital accounts to store photos professional photographers take on the ship.

    Here's how it works: Carnival Vista passengers are given accounts that are tied to their room information and photos of themselves. There are a handful of photographers on each trip paid to take photos of travelers.

    In the past, the photographers took photos, printed them out and hung them on a wall on the ship. Consumers could then pick out and pay for the photos they liked.

    "You're looking at a bunch of pictures that have been printed out, and you're trying to find yours among thousands—not only does this generate a lot of waste, it costs a lot of money to print out these pictures and then throw them away," said Frank Gomez, associate creative director at SapientNitro. "What we created was a way for all of these images to be sorted digitally, and searchable."

        

    Now, Carnival is testing facial-recognition technology that matches photographs with the correct passengers. Instead of printing out the photos, they're automatically dropped into passengers' digital accounts. Tablets on the ship let consumers select and buy photos. The photo feature is also built into an interactive TV app in guests' rooms and Carnival's own mobile app.

    "We took them from an analog way of doing business into the digital world where people cannot only search for their images—now they can interact with them," Gomez said.

    In addition to the digital photo experience, the Carnival Vista is equipped with an Imax theater and LED light displays.

        

        

        


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