How badly does Yahoo want to skip ahead to the forefront of media and social check-ins? Badly enough to spend a reported $20 to $30 million to buy TV check-in service IntoNow, which launched its iPhone-based service just 12 weeks ago.
IntoNow’s main “secret sauce” is the proprietary “Soundprint” technology that recognizes television shows by their audio — it says it has more than five years of 130 channels of U.S. based programming in its databases. The idea is to make it simpler for people to share their viewing habits with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Users running the app press a green button and IntoNow recognizes the program they’re watching, down to the episode, including never-before-aired shows, the company claims. Users can then find out which of their friends are watching the show, discuss the programs, find similar programs, and get more information about what they’re watching.
Yahoo says it’s tapping into the trend of consumers relying on social channels to discover new content. In a statement, Bill Shaughnessy, SVP of global product management, cited “the opportunities the technology presents across Yahoo!’s network, especially in regards to our video content, search, mobile and Connected TV experiences.”
The technology works not just for programming, but also for advertising. IntoNow is currently running a program with Pepsi MAX that lets users who see the new Pepsi MAX TV commercial, which features baseball legends past and present, to automatically receive a coupon on their phones that’s redeemable for a free Pepsi. The ad began airing on MLB broadcasts on April 20. The company also partnered with MTV to promote Jersey Shore and My Life as Liz, rewarding people who checked-in to those shows with a chance to win a prize or get additional information about the stars.
So far, the technology is only available for iPhone, but presumably the Yahoo acquisition will allow the company to more quickly develop versions for Android, iPad, and the Web. The newly-acquired company’s blog post about the deal suggests international versions are also in the works.
Yahoo has been struggling as of late, most recently turning in lower revenue numbers in the first quarter of 2011, as compared to the same period last year.