Social television app Zeebox has launched an automated advertising platform today called SpotSynch that will show users targeted digital advertisements simultaneously with specific TV programs and commercials.

The new feature will allow advertisers to throw up an advert within the Zeebox app at the exact same time as the advertiser’s commercial appears on TV. The idea is to try to combine the two devices to create adverts that are more personalized and interactive. It may also stop users from lazily refreshing their Twitter feed throughout an advert break, thereby ignoring the string of commercials almost entirely.

Zeebox is working with Viacom and NBC Universal, its strategic partners, as well as leading advertising agencies and brands to start developing some of the first synchronized ad campaigns.

Ernesto Schmitt, CEO of Zeebox, described SpotSynch as an “immediate path to engagement” that would bypass “the usual funnel from impression to action.”

In simpler terms, that means making it even easier to buy the goods and services being shown on your television set. So if you see a new pair of jeans being modelled on TV, the app might instantly bring up a link to the product page online, or show a map detailing your nearest store. It might feel obtrusive to some users, but the idea is that you don’t simply forget about the product when your TV shows resumes after the break.

SpotSynch is being launched in the US and the UK today and will work for TV advertisements across all the broadcast networks and 120 cable channels. Zeebox has stressed that broadcasters and advertising agencies do not need to change the way they produce or manage their TV advertising, as the app will detect the commercials on TV automatically.

SpotSynch adverts will appear in the live stream area of the Zeebox app, and also give users a number of expandable panels and tags related to what’s happening in the TV show they’re watching (think product placements and the like). For traditional TV adverts, they will appear for the same duration but then retract to a clickable tag, allowing users to find and interact with it later.

The launch will no doubt be welcomed by advertisers, but for users it might feel a bit irritating. Adverts on the TV can be bad enough, but at least you can avert your eyes or press the mute button if it’s really annoying you. With Zeebox, the advert follows you onto your personal device, further tempting you with new products and offers. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from just closing the app or putting it to sleep while the adverts roll by, but it’s an additional and perhaps unwanted step.

The first campaign from SpotSynch was trialled during the Super Bowl last week, showing a display advert for Fast & Furious 6 simultaneously with the trailer during the half-time break.

Zeebox says that more than 3.7 million people have now downloaded the Zeebox app worldwide, helping them get more content about their favourite shows and also take part in live votes, polls and synchronized games. It follows a significant update to its iOS app, letting users set their Sky+ HD box to record, directly from Zeebox.

➤ Zeebox | iOS | Android

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