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Path 51 helps brands serve ads to a consumer’s second screen while they watch TV

The stereotype goes that it’s millennials who have a short attention span and can’t go five minutes watching TV without picking up their smartphone, but stats show most people are guilty: a 2015 report from Accenture found that 87 percent of consumers frequently use another device while watching television.

Like the online publishing industry has despaired the rise of the adblocker, brands advertising on TV have worried about the rise of the second screen.

Looking to turn the second screen into an asset is Australian startup Path 51, a system which allows advertisers to serve ads on a viewer’s second screen through Facebook or Google ads, synced in real time with television and radio commercials.

As well as helping advertisers keep a hold of consumers from the TV to the second screen, Path 51 states it could also be used to ‘hijack’ competitor ad spend, by allowing marketers to serve ads at the moment that people have turned to their device during a competitor’s ad spot.

Founder and general manager Simon Larcey said he saw an opportunity to launch new services off the back of existing real-time monitoring technology. Media agencies have long used monitoring technology to check that the ads they have booked play as many times as they should, at the times they should, and to track competitor advertising.

Path 51 sought to extend or build on this technology to give advertisers the ability to use detections as a trigger to launch their ads on the second screen, calling this product Boost. It has also created Sentinel, a reporting dashboard to provide media agencies with information to help them optimise their advertising spend.

“From a consumer’s perspective, they will see a TV commercial airing. When they turn to their second screen, we will deliver a complimentary ad to amplify what they have just seen on TV or a competitor’s ad with a better offer. With our insight tool, media agencies will then access a dashboard and have the ability to run a series of reports,” Larcey explained.

The startup has also created Wizard, an API which allows publishers, or networks, to integrate Boost across their portfolio of products. With Wizard, publishers can offer the TV sync technology to advertisers themselves, while publishers are also given the ability to detect complete TV ad breaks.

Work began on the startup in June 2015 thanks to funding secured by a tech partner in Europe, with Larcey negotiating a joint venture.

After a year in development, the startup has already onboarded a number of big name clients, including Coles, Medibank, and TAB. Larcey said his original approach was to contact brands direct and have them refer the startup to their media agency; with a few happy clients under its belt, Path explained the relationships with agencies are proving beneficial.

However, Path 51 isn’t the only product in the market looking to help brands make use of the second screen, with companies including WyWy and TVTY also helping brands extend their advertising into the digital era.

Larcey said his product’s point of difference is that it can detect subscription TV, work across both live and catch up TV, and integrate with Youtube. Path 51 also has a greater understanding of the Australian market thanks to being based locally, while WyWy for example does not have staff on the ground in Australia.

While largely aimed at the bigger brands that can afford to advertise on TV, it could be interesting to see whether smaller players like startups use Path 51’s technology to serve digital ads if their product complements – or even is a competitor – of those on TV.

Larcey said Path 51 is currently focused on building its customer base and developing strategic partnerships with large media networks. Over the next 12 months he said he expects the business to expand its team, and turn a profit.

Image: Simon Larcey. Source: Supplied.





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