Social TV Startup Zeebox Seeks Impact With TV Campaign

One of the nascent social TV space’s most interesting new second-screen software services will this week court mainstream users with a nationwide TV advertising campaign, just as it targets broadcast partners with a new toolset.

Zeebox, an iOS app that augments live TV shows with interaction, show information and click-to-buy, will this Saturday air the first of 12,000 commercials on Sky and Viacom (NYSE: VIA) channels in the UK through March and April, in time for an upcoming new version with enhanced Twitter features, HD channel support and push notifications.

The airtime is part of the deal, worth more than £10 million, which Zeebox struck in January with BSkyB (NYSE: BSY), which involved funding, Sky Media selling ads inside Zeebox and Zeebox supplying its social service in to a next-generation Sky+ mobile EPG. Sky Media, Sky’s ad sales house, also sells ads for Viacom channels.

Zeebox, which paidContent revealed in August, gathered 300,000 unique users since launching in October. The app pulls together Twitter and Facebook interactions for shows. Users who also have internet-enabled TVs can use Zeebox’s EPG to change channel as though it were a remote control.

Other social TV services, like GetGlue and Miso, exist, but Zeebox has made a big impact very quickly with early adopters and industry types thanks to its diverse feature set and links with the UK broadcast sector. The startup claims average session time is 30 minutes and 27 percent of users post about shows to Facebook.

Zeebox is also now executing on its earlier promise to let broadcasters build custom interactivity in to the app, which Channel 4 earlier trialled for its Desperate Scousewives show. The company is calling this feature OpenBox Showtime, which lets broadcasters include their own custom branding and other features in otherwise generic show pages. BSkyB is now using this for its Got To Dance show.

Zeebox says that, for shows which have trialled OpenBox Showtime so far, an impressive 93 percent of users stay using the app features until their show ends. Meanwhile, over half of users click the info tags embedded by broadcasters.

The startup is also now going to market with its other main plank – a viewer insight service it wants to offer to broadcasters, which it says it can give minute-by-minute ratings information about audience habits within shows.