Yahoo Ramping Up in The Living Room

written by: Richard Kastelein

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Bob Pickard, writing for the Yahoo Advertising Blog has revealed some of the companies new plans they are calling Broadcast interactivity and Device control.

Broadcast interactivity automatically detects what a viewer is watching which enables publishers and advertisers to deliver content and commercials tailored to that viewer’s interests.

Device control technology enables smart phones and tablets to work interactively with TVs. This opens up more creative options for publishers and advertisers to build inventory, reach wider audiences and engage consumers in new ways. For example, if a publisher creates a long-form video, it can be offered to consumers via mobile phones and tablets, then linked to a Yahoo! Connected TV application to watch it on the big screen.

Geoff Duncan over at Digital Trends seems to be worrying about a bit of a Big Brother living room with Yahoo 'watching us'.

Yahoo is promising broadcast interactivity will collate information from a users’ viewing habits and platform activity (such as interacting with Yahoo TV widgets) to provide specialized ads, content, and offers that are specifically tailored them. As an example, Yahoo describes a fantasy football fan who is watching a game and engaging in a running commentary about it on Facebook at the same time. Broadcast interactivity will enable the Yahoo Connected TV to potentially serve up an advertisement for team apparel, along with options to bring up more content on the team, including fan blogs, stats, and player info. Yahoo also promises the content can be localizes to a consumer’s physical location: a local pizza place might be able to extend a special offer on deliveries.

Yahoo’s broadcast interactivity technology raises many privacy concerns—what information does the service gather, who has access to it, and can consumers opt out?—but may also disappoint advertisers. While mobile phones are generally used by just one person—so profiling content and usage habits on a phone is potentially revealing to advertisers—televisions more more likely to be shared by multiple people or an entire family, meaning the assembled profile information is likely to be an amalgam of many viewers’ interests and habits. That fantasy football fan isn’t going to want to be inundated with ads and content related to the latest goings-on on the Oprah Winfrey Network; similarly, parents might be shocked if Yahoo Connected TV ponies up racy ads to their children.

Since the recent acquisition of IntoNow for some 20 million dollars it will be interesting to see what Yahoo has in store for the audio fingerprinting technology and it's new, hugely innovative second screen TV app. IntoNow's technology combines the ability to check-in to what a consumer is watching, engage in conversations, and find related content.

Duncan concerns are a little over the top I think. Yahoo can use the native profile data that the CE manufacturers cull, and base contextual advertising on who is logged in for instance. Or if they are using the second screen (tablet or smartphone) can also tap into who are using those devices to interact with and or control the big screen in the living room. Then again, as I usually tell most people, there are almost three TVs per household in the average North American or European home. The Marshall Mcluhan-esque version of the family gathered around the electronic hearth is being replaced by a scattering of screens and game consoles throughout a typical house that are becoming more personal devices that communal ones.

Yahoo can also be part of the discovery journey in helping me find what we want to watch in an ever increasing world of entertainment choices. Both via social graphs and more advanced artificial intelligence that delivers up content based on what we have watched in the past and evolving viewing behaviour.

Trading data for targeted advertising is one thing, a company helping viewers navigate thousands of TV channels in the future is another.The latter is certainly useful.

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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