Sunday, April 08, 2007

About Ads and L3 Technology – Part 1

This is a copy of a blog I posted on

Many people don’t respect copyright and on the other side copyright is often abused (DMCA is a great example). However, it is still necessary to protect the creative rights of artistes and to provide for the engine that brings copyrighted works to you. One of the key concepts I started with, was that content needs to be monetized.

On TV content is typically monetized by placing ads within the content. However, that process is a seriously flawed remnant of the “rust-belt” era of engineering. Today when you visit a web page, especially if it is a site where you have to login (such as Adholes), it could precisely target ads for you. How? When you registered, you told Adholes where you live – some sites even know your Zip code. There is a place to enter your interests. You even entered your bio. On many sites you specify your interests by entering keywords or picking categories. It is not rocket science to target ads to you and many sites do that already.

But what if you could do this on TV? What if ads were not “baked-in” at the point of broadcast, but inserted on the device that sits in your own home? So they could be targeted to you. There are other advantages of inserting ads locally, but I won’t get into that here.

When you install your TiVo, you tell it your Zip code. TiVo prides itself on determining your interests based on what you record. So again targeting ads should not be too difficult. However, TiVo has not capitalized on this.

My technology goes even further. Apart from using heuristics to find viewers interests, it specifically asks the user for interests, categories and favorites. This is done in non-intrusive way by an occasional question on the screen. Then it is a simple matter of matching the ads to the interests. Plus, in my system, even the content has keywords associated with it. So, if not enough is known about a viewer, the content provides enough clues to target ads.

There are other advantages in the system too. For example, the software knows what time it is. Cereal ads at breakfast time? Pizza ads at dinner time? That’s just the beginning – how about a Saturday afternoon ad that tells you that a band you like is playing that evening a few blocks from your home (because it knows your taste in music)?

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