This article is part of a series covering the most exciting start-ups featured at the most recent TechBUZZ conference, held at AOL Fishbowl Labs. To read the rest of the articles in the series, click here.
Most of us don't get too excited about watching television commercials, except perhaps when the Superbowl rolls around. I've owned a Tivo since 1999, and the greatest feature of all is the 30-second skip button. However, television broadcasters that rely on advertising revenue don't love the 30-second skip button like I do. But what if there was a way to get me interested in watching television commercials again? What if I had an incentive to actually listen to the cutesy, Cockney-accented jokes of the Geico Gecko? With Buzzmark, now I do.
Buzzmark is described as a "boomark for audio." Specifically, it's an app for iOS and Android that listens for certain television or radio commercials you may be listening to, and when it hears one, it creates an entry in the app with a game for you to play now or later. The games are simple, like a slot machine or a Mario-esque jumping game.
Everyone wins when they play, even if they don't actually win the mini-game in the app. No matter what, you'll be able to claim a discount or deal once the short game is over. It's fun and engaging, and if you're someone who likes to save money, it might actually change your mind about watching those commercials. As a result, Buzzmark could help consumers save money and boost broadcasters' ad revenue.
Buzzmark has other potential applications as well. Political campaigns could use the app to gauge how people feel about candidates or certain issues through the use of polls and other feedback mechanisms. They can also link to fundraising pages.
The key challenge and opportunity for Buzzmark will be to keep up with the "interaction" needs of its various partners.
Buzzmark co-founder Mathias Entenmann tells us that the idea for Buzzmark began as more of a gaming and sweepstakes app, but when it was tested on actual users, it became clear that the technology was much more useful when it could sense what was being heard. Entenmann pitched the idea to a local affiliate television station -- Fox29 in Lake Charles, Louisiana -- and the advertising team became very excited about the possibilities. Buzzmark's business model is to sell its technology to the television stations, rather than trying to work directly with advertisers.
Thus far, Buzzmark has been used by three different local television stations in Louisiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has recognized more than 200,000 audio clips, and it's 50,000-plus users have played more than 100,000 games.
You can watch Entenmann's Buzzmark pitch at the recent TechBUZZ conference below:
David Forrest is the co-founder of ScreenDoor and a longtime Fool. He doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.