Microsoft announced an update to their Bing Pulse product which brings a second screen interactivity and analytics toolkit to broadcasters.
Second screen engagement for the past couple of years has been a case of two steps forward, one step back. A number of independent consumer-facing applications attempting to engage customers with TV, including Miso, Yap.tv, Viggle, NextGuide and ZeeBox haven’t been successfully at broadly engaging customers and many have closed down, merged, or turned their focus to broadcasters. Ultimately, only Shazam remains successful at linking viewers, advertisers and broadcasters – although that is an element of a broader music-oriented platform. These companies and others, including Watchwith, Applicaster, Arktan and Coincident have created metadata management and social engagement platforms for broadcasters. Automatic content recognition remains an important piece of the puzzle, with important providers including Civolution, Gracenote and SambaTV.
With all of these tools, broadcasters now have the ability to engage with customers from within their own applications, as well as leveraging social platforms – notably twitter and Facebook. Engagement is used to drive program ratings, engage more deeply and provide richer advertising to highly engaged fans, better understand the audience, and create parallel social entertainment channels. This engagement is critical for popularity oriented reality TV shows, programming targeting millennial and youth segments of the population, and can provide unique elements to news and especially political coverage. Bing Pulse 2.0’s announcement follows an overall move to analytics within the television context; note that Microsoft is also offering Skype oriented broadcast integration solutions to the same audience. From a programmatic standpoint, Ooyala has led this domain while Tivo just launched a new engagement oriented product. However, Bing Pulse will compete more against specialists such as Arktan as well as general competitor Yahoo! who is engaging with broadcasters on a number of fronts, including licensing SNL content for Yahoo! Screen and continues to invest in TV despite the flop of IntoNow and Yahoo! Connected TV.