Ensequence Looks to Keep Consumers Glued to TV Shows and Ads

5/16/12Follow @jpruth

With each new generation of television, broadcasters and marketers look for fresh ways to keep the audience invested in what they are watching. These days it is not unheard of for TV viewers to see discreet messages appear in the margins of their screens during broadcasts. If they click on these messages, marketing material or additional footage related to the show may appear. However, most viewers do not realize that platforms such as Ensequence’s iTV Manager helps connect them to this content on Web-connected televisions.

Ensequence, a New York company, offers its technology to broadcasters such as NBCUniversal and HBO, as well as service providers that include Time Warner Cable. The platform is used by these customers to insert information and messages into shows and ads. Now, with a recent $26 million investment round led by Myrian Capital, Ensequence plans to expand the development of its platform for reaching mobile devices.

Peter Low, the CEO of Ensequence, says his twelve-year-old company has raised some $140 million in funding since its inception. The company will put its latest funding round, announced May 11, towards advancing the ways the Ensequence platform works in the mobile sector as well as with Internet-connected televisions. “The bulk of the new funding is going to support the mobile and smart TV capabilities of the product,” he says.

Ensequence’s platform lets marketers such as Nike and Ford, service providers, and broadcasters create new layers of engagement with viewers. If an icon appears during a car commercial, for example, viewers who use their remotes to click on the icon may be taken to more details about the vehicle. “There is a prompt that allows the consumer to get deeper into that product,” Low says. That may include requesting coupons or free samples.

Broadcasters can use the technology to provide additional content to their viewers. Low says NBCUniversal used his company’s platform during the 2008 Olympic Games to offer the audience more information such as video highlights, statistics on the athletes, and the latest medal count. As more supplemental content is made available to TV viewers, Low says, public receptiveness increases. “The more the viewer experiences interactivity, the more likely they are to use it,” he says. “They get more comfortable with it.”

Furthermore, the longer the audience remains engaged with such content, Low says, the more ratings on shows tend to increase. For marketers, the additional content may help improve brand recognition and the likelihood of a consumer making a purchase. Holding the audience’s attention is crucial in the television industry as the public gets offered more entertainment options. “It becomes increasingly more important for the programmer and the advertiser to reengage with that viewer,” Low says.

The spread of tablet devices such as Apple’s iPad, Low says, offers more screens to reach the audience. On one hand, mobile devices can distract viewers with e-mail and social networks. However, Low says his platform offers ways to recapture the audience’s attention with enhanced content related to the television shows. “The viewer can go deeper into the content with the iPad as they are sitting in front of the television,” he says.

Though smartphones can also be used to access additional content, Low says tablets seem to be the go-to device as the proverbial second screen. “The tablet is a better medium for enhancing television content,” he says. “You want a bigger screen and the more robust capabilities of the tablet.”

The advent of such technology in consumer electronics, Low says, helped foster this new era of connection with the audience. “You have seen an explosion of interest since the introduction of the iPad,” he says. The spread of smart televisions also helps deliver more content to viewers.

Ensequence plans to hire more staff over the next two years, Low says, to further the platform’s development. The company currently has more than 70 employees, he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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  • http://www.brandings.com/ Kim Oakland

     This is just the beginning.  More engagement = more sales.