Enswers, a Seoul-based company whose content recognition technology is embedded in Samsung Smart TVs, has launched Enswers America to expand its global business. Founded in 2007 and now an independent subsidiary of Korea Telecom, Enswers provides its technology, which identifies audio, image, and video, to content creators through a software development kit.
Joonpyo “JP” Lee, the CEO of Enswers America, says that the company’s first stepping stone in the region is through Samsung’s broadcasting partners in the U.S.
Since 2012, all Samsung Smart TVs sold in the U.S. have embedded Enswers’ technology, which sends information to the company’s partners so they can push out interactive content and ads to viewers.
Despite debate about how effectively second screen experiences can be monetized, Enswers sees an opportunity to increase user engagement and bring additional revenue to brands.
“The number of TVs sold in North America is reaching saturation point. The resolution is as good as it gets, screens are as wide as possible. Companies are now looking for new business models for the TV industry and they have come to the conclusion that just making a TV box itself is not going to help much,” says Lee. “They want to distribute TVs as their own content platform and create new content-consuming experiences for viewers.”
In North America, Lee says Enswers main competitor is Shazam, which recently revamped its app to put a larger focus on TV results. Enswers wants to differentiate from Shazam by providing a SDK instead of making its own app.
In the U.S., Enswers plans to focus on talking to content producers who want to use its technology, the same business strategy it has deployed in Asia, where its clients have included Korean network SBS.
SBS used Enswers’ technology in an app it developed to encourage viewers to tune into live events during the London Olympics, which ran after midnight locally. The app checked in viewers by recognizing the sound of live games and rewarding them with badges and points. Over 200,000 people actively used the app during the duration of the games.
Enswers’ technology was also used by the producers of “Sadako 3D 2,” an installation in the Ring horror series. The app they created, which rang users’ smartphones at pivotal scenes in the movie, was used by 600,000 viewers during the movie’s theater run.
“One of the reasons why all recognition companies have been having challenges monetizing these kinds of services is because it’s difficult for tech guys to understand content. What we have discovered is that by giving tech to content guys and easing the use of technology, we are able to come up with more interesting ideas,” says Lee.