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03/12/2004 Archived Entry: "for the love of advertising"
Posted by CKL @ 09:17 AM PST

'Of all the new TV technologies available to consumers, the ability to skip commercials is by far the most appealing, according to research conducted for the Home Technology Monitor at Knowledge Networks/SRI. As reported by MediaPost's MediaDailyNews, 72 percent of those surveyed also said that digital video recorders should not be lumbered with devices that would prevent commercial skipping. Paradoxically, 63 percent of those surveyed agreed that watching commercials is a fair price for receiving "free" TV. "They just don't want to be the ones paying it," said Dave Tice, director of the Home Technology Monitor.'

It's a real catch-22, isn't it? I know some people have fooled around with systems which force you to watch commercials before you can watch TV, but that's even more annoying-- like DVDs where you can't skip the FBI warning, or theatres that run ten minutes of ads before you even get to the freakin trailers, much less the movie itself.

Advertisements aren't the problem; it's the method of delivery. Everyone hates the interrupt-of-attention ad model. But with DVRs and such, you're no longer limited to simply displaying a data stream. Buffering is just the beginning.

Other people have experimented with adding "sidebars" or "L-banners" to display ads. This seems to work best during sporting events, when you don't want to cut away from the playing field, and was even lampooned in the movie Ed TV. Local stations also do this for weather advisories and such. Of course, this makes the picture a little smaller, or squashes it vertically, but it's no worse than those damned "bottom third" banners that FOX keeps running. Excuse me, I don't care about whatever reality show dreck you're peddling this week. Go away.

C'mon, guys, this is a no-brainer. As the world moves to HDTV and 16:9 widescreen displays, people will still want to watch older programs-- reruns of Star Trek, for example, which were created for 4:3 displays. Why not use the blank space on the sides of the screen to display ads? Sure, the ads would have to be silent, and ideally static (i.e., no crazy animated, flashing, or otherwise seizure-inducing effects), and some purists might complain about ruining the original composition, but the majority of viewers would be pretty happy, I think.

The only other feature I'd want is a "premium" option, so I could pay to not see any ads at all. But then we get into digital rights management and copy protection and other things that aren't so much useless as hackable. The problem there is that nobody wants to set an industry-standard protocol that will help the consumer; they all want to come up with their own proprietary system which they each claim is the best on the market (hello, VHS vs. Beta). I'm all for competition, but these are just pissing contests.

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