Leave it to Pepsi to finally make TV marketing somewhat useful. According to Ad Age, here’s how it works:

Consumers download the iPhone check-in app IntoNow and hit it while the commercial plays on TV. Audio-fingerprinting technology then recognizes the ad and a coupon gets downloaded to your phone for a free 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi Max.

Hopefully, for PepsiCo, that transaction then gets shared out to the user’s connections on the social TV app, as well as to Facebook and Twitter. Pepsi has agreed to honor as many as 50,000 such coupons as an experiment in both driving trial of Pepsi Max, as well as the potential for interactive TV ads.

You’ve heard me before how television advertising is increasingly becoming an experiential vehicle. And in this case, it’s a sampling experience that starts with people watching ads rather than ends with it.

Full disclosure: My agency CP+B did something very similar with our Old Navy client:

IntoNow is not the first to give consumers a reason to check in to TV commercials. Shazam, the original audio-tagging service for the iPhone, powered a giveaway where the first 1,000 users that tagged an original song during an Old Navy TV ad got a free pair of jeans. The music video spent several weeks on Ad Age’s Viral Video Chart due to its popularity on the web.

But that wasn’t sampling. It was more of a promotion.

That’s why if this thing works with Pepsi, get ready for an entirely new way of watching commercials. And an entirely new reason to make ads.

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