Pixel Power key to world-first Twitter-determined ad break

Pixel Power has enabled the UK’s Channel 4 to broadcast the world’s first Twitter-determined commercial break. At around 21.45 on 10 July, viewers were identified to choose which version of a music video they preferred. Polydor Records wanted a new and engaging way to launch Shine, the new single from electronic pop trio Years & Years. The solution, worked out with broadcaster Channel 4, was to create three versions of the video, then let audiences choose their preferred treatment.

The record label’s agency booked the whole of the centre break in popular television show Eight Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown for the commercial. The break started with one version full screen and the alternatives in small windows. Each had its own hashtag and viewers were encouraged to vote. Five times during the three and a half minute break the votes were tallied and the most popular video took its place full screen.

Behind the scenes, social media company Spredfast was tallying the Twitter votes. Spredfast and Clarity were tightly integrated. As well as displaying the hashtags to vote for against each video the system was also screening some of the Twitter handles as they voted. It made for an immersive, engaging experience for the interactive audience as well as an exciting new way to launch the music.

The interface was designed by Channel 4, with support from Pixel Power’s creative services team to implement it. Barny Connell of Channel 4’s broadcast operations team said “The Clarity and the ability to drive it from remote systems was key here, and the help provided by the Pixel Power guys was invaluable.”

“This was a great example of how a new idea to engage audiences can be implemented simply and quickly,” said James Gilbert, CEO of Pixel Power. “We’re always happy to work with clients like Channel 4 who push the boundaries and explore innovative solutions using Pixel Power technology to enhance the viewer experience.”

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