Many shops, bars and other venues like to entertain customers visually with TV, but keep the sound muted. Giving customers sound access via their mobile devices is one way to re-connect the audience – with the programme, with each other and with local services.
A study carried out in March by Motorola Mobility*, the Illinois, US-based ICT equipment corporation owned by Google, among 9,500 consumers in 17 countries, found that on the one hand, an increasing number of viewers were adopting a multi-screen habit of watching television, but on the other hand, a majority of viewers also wanted TV-watching to be a more social experience. For example, the report shows that 78% of 18-24 year-olds “would be interested in linking their social network profile to a TV service to share what they are watching and increase online, real-time discussion.” It is clear that there are differences in use and expectations depending on the age and culture of the TV viewer, as earlier studies, among them previous Motorola Mobility reports, have already shown, but this has not discouraged Colorado-based Airborne Media Group from zooming in on the trend with their Audioair product. Audioair is a free smartphone app, which enables all types of venues to let customers connect up to the sound track of the TV programme they are watching on a muted screen.
Interactivity plus advertising
Viewers can therefore use the Audioair functionality on their mobile device to listen to the audio track of a television whose sound has been turned down to avoid a cacophony from multiple sets or general noise pollution in a public place. Users connect via the app to a Wi-Fi network installed by the owner of the venue – a restaurant, sports bar, casino, shopping mall etc – which enables access to the audio tracks provided by Audioair. They can connect to the service either through an Audioair ID and use Audioair’s social network, or via their Facebook account. Apart from the pure personal convenience of not having to lip-read or miss interesting information, the service will also help to respond to the growing demand for more ‘social’ viewing as described above. The system may well also be a boon for advertisers, as it becomes possible to reach users and target them directly with location-based advertising.
Boosting loyalty, popularising the service?
As with many apps, Audioair offers rewards and gaming opportunities in order to attract and retain customers. The company can moreover help a TV-screen venue owner to increase customer loyalty by providing an on-site server to manage local, network and cloud-based content. Audioair’s potential customer base has to be seen in context, however, because although in theory the system can be used anywhere on any television set, venue owners will still have to install the necessary system. Airborne Media Group is currently piloting its solution at 47 sites, including sports bars, restaurants, student health facilities and even a large resort casino. A deal with the local DirecTV installer covering several states in the US southeast has given the company traction and it plans to be in 800 locations by the end of the third quarter.
* Fourth Annual Media Engagement Barometer, by Motorola Mobility; research among 9,500 consumers in UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Turkey, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, India, Japan and China conducted on behalf of Motorola by Vanson Bourne agency