Embedded advertising: intrusive or inventive?

How do you reach a TV-watching audience who fast-forward through adverts between programmes? Put the adverts inside the programmes, silly. This is not product placement, but a new technology that finds blank space on the screen during a programme – a big white wall or a clear blue sky, for example – and puts a non-moving logo on it. So ads actually appear within the programme.As current TV regulation stands, embedded advertising like this isn’t allowed on our screens. But online, broadcasters are free to do what they please. And the ITV website is already trying it out on some of its local programme videos.But what does this mean for viewers? An ominously floating corporate logo hovering over your football match? Offers for faster broadband peeping out behind a star-crossed Romeo and Juliet? Isn’t this all a bit intrusive?Well, maybe. But then again, product placement has been commonplace in films since the day dot. And no one complains much about advertising around sports arenas or on team kit. Provided that the logos don’t disturb a particularly poignant moment mid-drama, it’s not so very different from what’s out there already (although it might take a bit of getting used to visually).And you have to hand it to developer Keystream, who’ve created the technology using complex algorithms to seek out the on-screen blank space - they’ve been pretty ingenious. Discovering a whole new space for advertisers to work in has massive potential and takes some serious work. Whether or not you like the idea of programme content and advertising merging into one entity, you have to salute their inventiveness and execution.

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