Yahoo has made a major play when it comes to bringing connected content to the next level with the purchase of IntoNow. While no one is ready to pat Yahoo on the back just yet, due to the high price paid for such a low user base and a product barely three months old, it’s a clear step forward for Yahoo on a focus that has been seen over the course of the last year.
IntoNow offers the ability for users to “check in” to TV content or a commercial. Using the microphone, the app which currently is only available for the iPhone, can determine what the user is watching in real time. Monitoring over 120 cable channels has allowed IntoNow to use this technology to recognize those broadcasts and if the content was available, to interact with it as well. This adds a whole new layer to television content, and Yahoo now has its hands directly in it.
Akin to how Foursquare has a virtual layer over the real world, IntoNow can do the same thing for TV. The information can be used in so many ways. On a social aspect, IntoNow can create communities of people who want to discuss a show, topic, genre, anything. It can make it easier for them to tweet and post about it. For advertisers, they can take full advantage of what content users are checking in to and the aggregated data that can form from repeated checkins. This can allow some great targeting if IntoNow decides to serve ads or even layering on other social graphs like Twitter.
But the biggest benefit that IntoNow brings to the table is added halo effect.
“if you think about it, maybe its not about overadvertising, but claiming some of the halo effect of great content,” said Gavin Becker, executive director of digital innovation and strategy at Ogilvy. He’s pointed out that during CES, Yahoo was very much focused on interactive TV and ways to leverage its existing content. Where Yahoo relies on publishers for the content, IntoNow doesn’t as it monitors broadcasts on its own instead of relying on information from the publishers.
Currently, competition like GetGlue and Miso don’t offer the ability to identify what show the user is watching, which puts IntoNow ahead of the game. The advanced technology and the lead in the space could easily explain why Yahoo felt the need to purchase the company for the price they did so early in the products lifecycle. The largest problem that IntoNow will face is that apps of this caliber are usually associated with power users.
“It might be relegated right now to power users,” said Becker. “But with the ease of use its likely to open to a much large audience. I think this is a way to ease people into it.”
Becker agreed that the value of the purchase can easily be determined by how Yahoo brings the company in. A level of independence will allow for IntoNow to grow without risking the quality of service it brings to the table.
While the potential is laid out clearly for IntoNow, there’s also a level of risk. As it’s using existing content and creating a new layer around it, will it face similar issues that Zite and Flipboard have?