It's been a long and winding road for 12-year-old Ensequence, a private company that has raised about $140 million to date, including a new $26 million round announced Thursday. The company initially produced software tools that TV and advertising creative staffs could use to make interactive TV apps -- a polling widget, say -- to embed in TV programs and commercials.
But the market wasn't what Ensequence had expected. It eventually shifted its focus to creating a tech platform that cable operators could use to deploy and schedule those interactive TV apps at scale.
Since the shift, Ensequence's software has allowed TV programmers and operators, as well as advertisers, to manage the delivery of commercials and video content that TV viewers can interact with through their remotes.
The latest round is being led by Myrian Capital, and Ensequence CEO Peter Low said he plans to use it to develop technology that will extend that interactive experience to the second screen of tablets as well as to smart TVs with a new group of tech and sales hires.Jim Stengel, former global marketing director of Procter & Gamble, is joining Ensequence's board. The company has worked in the past with QVC UK to let TV viewers buy products through their remotes and with Showtime to let boxing fans access on-screen polls and stats from their remotes. Similarly, a cable operator could help make its local ads interactive by giving viewers the ability to request more information on a product or service by pressing a remote's "Select" button.
Using technology called automatic content recognition, Ensequence wants to help TV programmers and advertisers schedule and deliver complementary content to mobile devices that people are surfing while they watch TV.
"If you're an advertiser or [TV] programmer, you want to make sure that the viewer is really engaged with the content and not using the tablet to do email or something unrelated," Mr. Low said. "The tablet creates a really great opportunity, but it also takes added effort to keep people interested."