A Drastic Mistake: Television Ad-Viewing Enforcement

You’ve got to be kidding me…says the NewScientist.com:

If a new idea from Philips catches on, the company may not be very popular with TV viewers. The company’s labs in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, has been cooking up a way to stop people changing channels to avoid adverts or fast forwarding through ads they have recorded along with their target programme.

The secret, according to a new patent filing, is to take advantage of Multimedia Home Platform – the technology behind interactive television in many countries around the world. MHP software now comes built into most modern digital TV receivers and recorders. It looks for digital flags buried in a broadcast, and displays messages on screen that let the viewer call up extra features, such as additional footage or information about a programme.

Philips suggests adding flags to commercial breaks to stop a viewer from changing channels until the adverts are over. The flags could also be recognised by digital video recorders, which would then disable the fast forward control while the ads are playing.

Now, consider Disney’s ABC broadcast network. ABC deserves super kudos for becoming the first broadcast network to offer a large number of top entertainment shows online for free. But this experiment has a hitch, similar to Philips new technology: ABC is using technology that enables viewers to pause and move backward and forward between portions of the streamed show, but they won’t be able to fast-forward through ads. I wonder if ABC’s execs are considering what Philips so blatantly acknowledged in its patent, according to NewScientist:

Philips’ patent acknowledges that this may be "greatly resented by viewers" who could initially think their equipment has gone wrong. So it suggests the new system could throw up a warning on screen when it is enforcing advert viewing. The patent also suggests that the system could offer viewers the chance to pay a fee interactively to go back to skipping adverts.

To me, forcing ads on viewers is one of the most effective ways to make people dislike you. That’s exactly why I despise movie theaters nowadays, and probably a key reason why fewer people go in the first place. If viewers are uninterested or irritated by your ads, why would you hold them captive? Here’s an analogy: If you had guests in your home that you found uninteresting or irritating, would you want them to stay? No. But you probably would let them stay, since they are real people with feelings you wouldn’t want to hurt. But advertisements don’t deserve the same respect, and they don’t have feelings.

Moreover, if you’re an advertiser, would you want your brand forced within these controlled contexts that might foster feelings of negativity, hostility or entrapment – with the very people you’re trying to engage and make customers out of! And if you’re a programmer, don’t these forced advertisements erode the quality of the viewing experience? The bottom line: Programmers need to find other ways to fund their programming. The advertisers need to find other ways to engage their target customers. But trying to force ads in a world of increasing consumer empowerment just doesn’t work. At least not for me.

I’m extremely interested to see how this Philips idea and ABC experiment pan out. But I mustn’t judge, for this is an experiment, and perhaps there are viewers out there who will buy into the concept. If this has a chance, I suppose it will be primarily with very premium content.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: AttentionMax

Leave a comment