Yahoo buys IntoNow to boost social TV

Internet giant Yahoo has announced it is buying IntoNow in a bid to increase the appeal of its television-related offerings to both consumers and advertisers. The basic idea behind IntoNow’s technology is that it keeps track of what people are actively watching on their televisions—not just the channel, but the show, the episode, and what specific part of an episode—in order to pull in information related to the show from a variety of sources, including social media so users can chat about shows, find related content, get recommendations, and learn more about shows. And, of course, this information is deeply relevant to advertisers too, who might be very keen to push an ad for a product right where it—or a competitor’s product—appears in an episode.

Yahoo IntoNow

“Relying on social channels as a means for discovering content—whether it’s on a PC, mobile device, or TV—is rapidly on the rise. IntoNow’s technology combines the ability to check-in to what a consumer is watching, engage in conversations, and find related content,” said Yahoo senior VP of product management Bill Shaughnessy, in a statement.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

IntoNow says they have indexed more than five years ol U.S. television programming, creating a deeply detailed database that can be used to built video discovery and programming tie-in applications. IntoNow’s application is already integrated into Facebook, iTunes, Twitter, and Netflix to enable sharing and information gathering; Yahoo plans to leverage the technology to increase social engagement “across the Yahoo Network and on all screens.”

IntoNow’s indexing technology uses audio fingerprinting technology to quickly identify shows from three-second sound samples, even if they’re airing for the first time. Users just load up the IntoNow application on their iOS device. press the green button, and the app taps into the device’s microphone to listen to the TV show and figure out what you’re watching. Right now, the application posts user names and identified programming to a public feed as soon as they’re identified, although users can go back and remove those. Commenting and notifications are limited to friends, and the companies says it aims to provide “more-granular” privacy controls in the future.