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Kia gets sporty with a new second-screen tennis app

Kia is taking second-screen to the next level with a new mobile application that lets consumers return a tennis serve live from their television.

Kia Game On lets consumers use their phone as a racquet to virtually return a serve from Australian tennis player Sam Groth. The app is powered by mobile solutions agency Mnet and can be downloaded for free in Apple?s App Store and Google Play.

"Kia Motors Australia has been a proud sponsor of the Australian Open Tennis since 2002, and every year we look for new ways to engage fans and create a memorable impression around the Kia brand," said Steve Watt, general manager of marketing at Kia Motors Australia. "When watching a tennis match, the ultimate experience for the millions of couch-bound viewers would be to actually put them on the court to face a serve from a tennis athlete.

"Until this year the technology hasn?t been available to do this well," he said. "However working with our mobile partner Mnet, media agency Initiative and creative agency Innocean this year we felt we could answer this challenge and create a unique experience we just knew would be a hit.

"Kia has always had strong brand association with the Australian Open; however the experience to date had been limited to exposure whereas at the actual event we could entertain and engage with consumers, and educate them about our brand and models. Our Kia Game On app allowed us to have a similarly immersive experience with the millions of viewers sitting at home."

Game on
Kia?s new app lets consumers get in on the action during the Australian Open Tennis Men?s Final. While they watch the games on TV, they can get a chance to actually experience the games themselves.

During the games, Kia commercials will feature six different swings from Sam Groth, and consumers will be able to return them with the app.

Sam Groth has been named the world?s fastest server with serves as fast as 263kph. Kia?s Game On app will let consumers get a feel for how fast the serves actually are.

Consumers can also go to the microsite to play the game.

To play, consumers must open the app to the ?Waiting for serve? screen with the racquet showing. The app must be open and ready before the ad begins.

Consumers can then hold their phone like a tennis racquet and grip tightly. A countdown clock in the top right corner will countdown when the ball is ready to be served.

When the clock reaches zero, the ball will come by and the consumer must swing his or her phone to return the serve. Consumers should be standing at least three meters away from the TV screen for it to work.

The app syncs with the on-screen serve by using audio fingerprint triggers and the accelerometer. It can then determine the accuracy of the user?s swing in a similar way that a game console does.

The app will end when the Australian Open ends on January 26, but Kia has already started working on the next version that will be released around another major sporting event this year. It also plans to enhance the experience for the 2015 Australian Open as well.

Users will be entered to win a Kia Cerato Koup Turbo with every swing they take. The more accurate the swing, the more entries they will receive.

According to Mnet, the game is currently being played in 103 countries.

Second Screen
The Game On app is a great way to leverage the second-screen capabilities of smartphones. It is an engaging and creative way to take advantage of the fact that most consumers are on their phones while watching TV.

This multitasking culture has drawn a number of marketers to try to create similar second-screen experiences, often using services like Twitter Amplify to create a conversation during TV shows.

One issue with the Game On app is that it is a short-lived game that does not have much long-term power. After the Australian Open is over, there is no real follow-up in terms of consumer engagement.

Even if Kia continues to leverage Game On for other sporting events, it would benefit from integrating a long-term strategy into this app to keep consumers continuously engaged.

?One of the biggest challenges that brands face in 2014 is how to create compelling multiscreen content. Games, and more importantly game narrative, have been effective in driving mobile engagement,? said Gary Schwartz, Toronto-based author of ?The Impulse Economy? and ?Fast Shopper, Slow Store.?

Mr. Schwartz is not affiliated with Kia. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

?As live television programming is one of the last bastions for the broadcaster, any interactivity that can extend this media value and drives viewer engagement is a good thing,? Mr. Schwartz said.

?However, like any creative campaign this is not a long-term strategy for the brand, and the app will join the content graveyard post tournament,? he said. ?The question is what strategies can tie Sam Groth's 263kph serve with its post-interstitial audience??

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York