BrightLine Enhances Local Ad Tools For Connected TV

As consumers become more “screen-agnostic,” the streaming TV landscape is making room for more zip code-targeted ads.

Brightline's Mike Fisher
Brightline’s Mike Fisher

Just because the connected TV remains a few years away from serving as a scalable advertising platform, that doesn’t mean it’s too soon for ad tech companies to get themselves into position. Brightline, which is building its business on serving interactive TV ads, is promising to get advertisers ready for streaming television to take off, in part by offering to target consumers based on location.

Last June, e-Marketer estimated that in 2014, more than 113 million people (35.5 percent of the US population and 45 percent of internet users) would use a connected TV regularly. Through 2017, e-Marketer forecasted that the connected TV audience would post double-digit growth rates.

As the connected TV trend gains steam, Brightline, which has been working towards the internet TV moment for 13 years, recently launched three updates to its UXTV connected TV ad products: GeoSync CTV; SocialStream CTV; and ShopList CTV, noted Mike Fisher, the company’s director of Strategy and Innovation.

GeoMarketing: What does the connected TV landscape look like right now? How big is the marketplace and who are the major players?

Mike Fisher: Right now there are over 40 million connected TV devices out there. [That number] is estimated to grow to 60 million by the end of 2015.

The majority of those are Roku and Apple TV. Amazon sold tons of Fire TVs during the holiday season. Google just launched their own competing connected TV box, and Dish [subsidiary Sling TV] announced their new Over-the-Top TV service that allows viewers to access TV level content through any device [just like] on a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV.

What distinguishes connected TV ads from traditional TV,  digital, and mobile ads? 

We find that viewers are much, much more receptive to essentially click on interactive ads and engage with interactive ads. TV is inherently very lean-back. When people watch TV, they’re conditioned to be exposed to advertising. They know it’s part of the TV experience and mostly unavoidable. Whereas in digital and mobile, people don’t really click on things because they’re afraid of being exposed to advertising.

Imagine you’re siting in front of your TV and you’re watching a commercial and something comes up that says, “Click here to find local dealer offers from GM,” or something. When you click on it, it pulls up a micro site. It could show the car, it could show the top level, what we would consider tier-one style auto advertising.

The really great thing from a tier two, tier three [perspective], which is like local automotive money, and by extension, where geo-relevancy comes in, is that [our ads] are able to say, “Here’s the closest GM dealership to you; Here’s a local lease offer that’s available for the tri-state area; Click here to enter your info and have the dealership call you.”

We actually did do a campaign with Buick that allowed the viewer to enter their name and email address and that actually went right into the dealership’s CRM database to allow local dealers to reach out to those people.

That is the GeoSync feature coming into play, right? Can you break down how that works? How granular can it get?

It’s based on zip code. From our perspective, we’re able to target as much as our client is able to target. We’re collecting IP address, we’re collecting standard metrics that people are already collecting in the digital space. We built our system to be compatible with digital, so we’re able to plug into anything the advertiser’s using. If an advertiser’s working with somebody like an Axiom or an Experian or a Catalina to do pre- or post-targeting, we’re able to piggyback off of what they’re already doing on the web to do it.

The same way you may go to a website and see a GM banner for some local dealership offer, or a banner for Hellmann’s Mayo that says, “Here’s the closest place to get Hellmann’s Mayo,” we’re able to take advantage of what [brands] are already doing to pull that right into the experience.

All viewers who are out there nationwide are seeing the same overall experience, but it’s tailoring the message down to the zip code level, in most cases. Viewers can then find store locators, special deals, limited time offers, etc.

Similar to a mobile device, the user would be clicking on the ad to find out further details, only they would be clicking on their remote control? 

Yes, and part of our services to the advertiser is actually optimizing that for television. When you’re on a smartphone it’s a lot easier to scroll. We try to optimize [the ads] based on that. That’s really what our core service is in that space. It’s all still using the underlying technology that the advertiser or brand marketer has already built. We’re not reinventing the wheel by any stretch, we’re saying, “Hey, if you have a web store locator that works, pass us that API, we’ll make it work on TV.”

What about other location-based aspects like the weather, for instance? Could that play a role in Geo-Sync?  

Sure. Something like an allergy locator [could factor in]. A feature of the ad that is able to say, “Hey, here’s the pollen forecast for the day.”

One of the campaigns we did was for L’Oréal, where we were able to figure out where the viewer was and pull in a product recommender. If it was rainy, [L’Oréal] could recommend some product that would be good for frizzy hair in the rain, or recommend waterproof mascara.

Do the other two new features, SocialStream CTV and ShopList CTV, tie in location-based marketing?

Yeah. The social perspective is actually really cool. We’re able to bring in any sort of social feeds, and we’re pulling APIs right into the experience. When [a client] posts something on their Facebook feed or Instagram feed, it shows up right in the experience with them not having to do anything.

Then on the ShopList CTV side of things, that’s really just more of an extension. In enables the viewer to learn more about that product that’s recommended for the [aforementioned] frizzy hair weather, then save the [product info] and then see if there’s a [related] coupon they can save to their phone so that when they’re in stores they’re actually able to find the product and get a discount on that.  It’s not really purchasing through the TV as much as it is just [creating] an extension to [brand] engagement.