ABC's first effort to deploy a new Nielsen app that allows a real-time, two-screen experience with an iPad and TV went belly-up last fall. But a second go-round starting this week could actually be more beneficial for the network now that a sponsor is attached.
The app allows a viewer watching the broadcast of a show to simultaneously interact with related content on the iPad. The tablet content is synched to exactly what's happening on screen -- be it an opportunity to access a character bio, watch extra video or participate in a poll about what will happen next. Version two of the app debuts Thursday during "Grey's Anatomy" and will be sponsored by Lexus.
The two-screen initiative originally was deployed during two episodes of new ABC drama "My Generation" last fall, but the show was soon canceled. Major hit "Grey's" will not suffer that fate, allowing for increased experimentation.
The Lexus sponsorship brings with it a continued brand presence during the broadcast on the iPad and some interactive opportunities, such as trivia related to Lexus ads airing during the show.
"That's the beginning of what I think will be a long learning experience for brands and agencies and content owners," said Nielsen Executive Vice President Sid Gorham.
The app is propelled by Nielsen's Media-Sync Platform. It is teed up for the iPad now, but Nielsen plans to open it up to smartphones and Android-based tablets. Other networks are expected to experiment with it soon.
It is powered by the same technology that allows Nielsen to garner ratings data, which as a side benefit allows the beaming of signals between the TV and mobile devices. The capability is run, however, as a business by a stand-alone division within Nielsen.
As Nielsen and ABC began the iPad initiative last fall, part of the agreement was that if "My Generation" failed, another show would be used, Gorham said.
Of the Lexus interactive marketing, Gorham said: "What we really want to crack the code on is how do we deliver an interactive ad on the second screen?" Of course, if the iPad experience is too engrossing, that could have some impact on the TV viewing, offering the content developers a challenge.
"You want to find that right balance ... you want to have the second screen reinforce the primary experience, but not be so totally distracting that you wander off," Gorham said.