The 30-second television advertising commercial will never be the same again, after ITV yesterday signed a deal enabling viewers to interact with adverts from the sofa.
Thanks to the deal with Shazam, the British-based company best known for enabling people to identify catchy tunes by using an app on their phone that identifies the song's audio fingerprint, ITV viewers will soon be able to snap up things that take their fancy during ad breaks using their mobile phones.
The company has adapted its audio-recognition technology to identify television commercials that have been Shazam-enabled. Viewers will be able to use the app to receive extra content from their favourite brands, get details of deals or go straight to an e-commerce site.
The development is further recognition of the increasingly common practice of dual screening, where television viewers watch programmes while following online commentary on social media websites or other online sources.
It was not something that Madison Avenue executives had to worry about in the early years of advertising, when the 30-second "spot" first emerged. But fans of hit shows such as the advertising drama Mad Men often now choose to watch the adventures of Don Draper while interacting with other viewers via phones, tablets and laptops.
Shazam technology was introduced to American television advertising in February 2011 and has already had a marked effect on the way some viewers behave. During major television advertising events including the Grammy awards and the Super Bowl, it comes into its own. "It turns a 30-second ad into a five-minute engagement," said Shazam spokeswoman Rica Squires. "You can include video and kinds of different content to what viewers saw on the ad."
In an era when the public is bombarded with commercial messaging, many people might wonder why they would invite further advertising onto a device as personal as their mobile phone.
But the initiative will target fans of particular brands. A viewer of an American ad for the latest installment of the horror film franchise Underworld, for example, could use Shazam to receive a two-minute trailer, rather than just TV's 30-second clip.
The deal with ITV is important for the broadcaster at a moment when its advertising revenues are returning. The development came as reports suggested that the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and coverage of the European football championships in Poland and Ukraine could help ITV to a bumper summer in advertising, with revenues for June up 15 per cent on the same period in 2011.