Chris Bell, broadcast buyer, UM London
Chris Bell, broadcast buyer, UM London
A view from Chris Bell

Think BR: Will Zeebox revolutionise our dual screen media consumption?

A new connected TV app could hold major potential for marketers, writes Chris Bell, broadcast buyer at UM London.

Zeebox is, in a nutshell, the first attempt to create an app to take advantage of our increased dual screen media consumption.

It allows you to ‘check-in’ and show your friends what you are watching and to see what they’re viewing at the same time.

It also tells you which programs are ‘trending’. So, if Jeremy Clarkson is trailing the new fastest car on the planet on Top Gear, you could find out in real time from your peers, switch over and see it for yourself.

You can invite your friends to come and join your television viewing without leaving the comfort of their own home.

If they accept your invite, the app will even automatically switch over their internet-enabled TV.

I would imagine Zeebox will be instantly taken up by the technology early adopters and by the social media crowd who currently dual screen to tell their friends what they are watching. 

If you’re someone who already voices your opinion on TV programmes over social media channels then you’ll feel most at home with Zeebox. 

But does it actually offer anything more than what we already have with Twitter and Facebook?

On the surface, no. But this is where I come to the clever part. Zeebox actually ‘listens’ to the TV and what is being discussed on the programme, then creates tags (or hyperlinks) within the app for you to click on in real time.

Think carefully selected subtitles which you can click on to find out more information. It could potentially be a goldmine for brands.

If their product or company is mentioned and ‘tagged’, users can click through to their websites and purchase products without needing to find the web address or use a search engine. 

So it’s essentially removing steps from the customer journey.

Even more intriguing, though, is Zeebox’s ability to measure. If customers can click on hyperlinks relating to TV content, could Zeebox be a way of measuring product placement? 

Let me give an example to explain myself better. If Coronation Street’s Steve McDdonald mentions his new Tempur Mattress, Zeebox then displays a Tempur Mattress tag which you can click on.

The customer will then go through to the website and we will be able to monitor all the traditional online metrics.

This will be on top of all the BARB data we will have which will tell us how many people saw the programme and the product placement on-screen seconds.

In this way, the app could be a major breakthrough.

What is not clear just yet is whether Zeebox will also be live when advertising breaks are on (the app is being produced along with television content producers, so there may not be any integration with traditional spot advertising).

If it is, then it could hold major potential for marketers. Zeebox could facilitate brand conversations during commercial breaks, giving viewers access to tags produced in real time, when the brand is front of mind, and providing live links to a wealth of branded content.

So, will Zeebox be the next chapter in the relationship between the Internet and television?

I personally think it will work well; they have a team of ex-BBC iplayer developers on board and could potentially be used by a few hundred thousand people.

But in the grand scheme of things, do I expect it to become a game changer?

In short, no. It could at best fit within the current social media trends & strategies and find itself as a consideration within media plans as a wider 360 brief. 

Chris Bell, broadcast buyer, UM London