Dec 2, 2008

Tech - No more fast forwarding through advertisements

Latest technology capable of placing ads in programmes

LONDON: Television viewers will no longer be able to fast forward through advertisements under a new ITV plan to embed them in blank spaces during programmes the Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

The new technology, which is known as ‘automatically placed overlay advertising’, uses a computer programme to find space such as sky or blank walls to drop in company logos or messages.

It has been developed by American firm Keystream in response to increasing concerns from advertisers that set-top boxes allow viewers to record programmes and then fast-forward through advertisements eliminating their impact.

The technology is being tested currently on ITV Local's website and, if successful, could be rolled out across the network and onto television screens.

Advertisers taking part in the trial include, the price comparison website, and Freesat, the digital satellite service. On the internet, viewers can click on the logo to be taken to the advertiser’s website.

Simon Fell, head of future technology, ITV, says, “There’s a lot of potential. If there's a scene in a programme where there’s time, then it could give us a chance to get an ad away. But obviously on television you won’t be seeing one of these appearing at a crunch point in a drama.”

“This technology looks at moments in the video where it finds segments that are big enough to get a non-moving logo in. Rather than an editor sitting through it and finding space, and all the effort that takes, this does it all automatically,” he added.

“We’re testing it online, where it’s a manageable area and allows us to get feedback from both advertisers and viewers. It gives us another tool in the arsenal, and it’s subtle.”

But the new technology could prove to be a source of irritation for viewers, and it is not yet known how regulators Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority will

Colin Macleod, research director at the World Advertising Research Centre, an independent advisory body, said, “Consumers are becoming a lot more clever in avoiding advertising, and now that they’ve got the technology to do it it’s become a big issue for advertisers. They need to be smarter.

“Anything that they are able to use to attract viewers attention they will welcome, but as long as viewers feel comfortable about it. This potentially could cause some friction between broadcaster and consumer.”

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