Television viewers who like to fast-forward through advertising breaks may want to look away now. ITV is developing a new form of unavoidable advertisement that can be embedded in television programmes. The new technology, which is known as “automatically placed overlay advertising”, uses complex computer algorithms to find clear space, such as blue sky or blank walls, in video footage in which to display logos or messages.
The technology, which was developed for ITV by Keystream, a Californian company, is currently being tested in news footage on the broadcaster’s ITV Local website. If it is well received, and if regulations permit it, ITV hopes to transfer it to the television screen.
Simon Fell, head of future technology at ITV, said: “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.I don't know where to start on how wrong this is, but if the head of future technology wants to use his development budget in this way you've got to worry for the short term future of the company. Unfortunately it is hardly surprising from a company whose chairman is so confused about the media landscape in 2008 that he claimed YouTube is 'parasitically leeching content from ITV'. I don't believe for a minute that he really doesn't get the difference between content and distribution, but the both these stories suggest that ITV are so commited to their old business model that they are proactively pr-ing the fact that they are out of date. The scary thing is that as one third of Kangaroo, they are going to be able to drive the shoutloud-interupt-ignore ad model into the future