ITV's new technology may make ads unavoidable

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London, Oct 1 : With advertisers finding it increasingly difficult to capture the attention of consumers during programme breaks, ITV is developing a new technology that may address the issue.

While watching their favourite programmes, television viewers usually like to fast-forward through advertising breaks.

Now, ITV is developing a new form of unavoidable advertisement that can be embedded in television programmes.

The new technology, developed for ITV by Keystream, a Californian company, 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 is known as 'automatically placed overlay advertising', 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.

"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," Timesonline quoted Simon Fell, head of future technology at ITV, as saying.

"It [the 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.

"We're trialling 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," he added.

Advertisers participating in the trial include, the price comparison website, and Freesat, the digital satellite service. The companies' logos appear in the background of some videos on the ITV Local website.

The new technology could also allow viewers to click on the logo to visit an advertiser's website, an avenue that advertisers are keen to exploit, given the development of set-top boxes that allow Internet access.

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