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Microsoft's ad serving patent
Ads served under its system are better, says Microsoft

Microsoft last week filed a patent for DVRs that addresses an issue that advertisers have been scratching their heads over for quite some time: time-sensitive ad skipping. According to surveys, 15-percent of all DVR owners in the U.S. claimed that they used their DVR units primarily to skip ads. This of course presents a problem for advertisers, which interestingly, presents a problem for Microsoft's own patent.

The new Microsoft patent proposes that ads do not get permanently embedded into a TV program, but rather a DVR ad-based server be used instead. The server will track where ads are to be played throughout a program and insert an appropriate ad. This way, time-sensitive ads will be played or not played appropriately.

Prior to Microsoft's patent, a user may decide to record a program that he or she may miss because of a business trip. A week later, when they watch their recorded show, a time-sensitive ad such as one that promotes a two-day sale at their favorite big-box retailer may no longer be relevant. Instead of seeing an ad that's new an relevant, an old ad is played and the ad spot is wasted. Microsoft's DVR advertisement system addresses this very issue.

Using a DVR-based advertisement database, a time-sensitive database is kept of all current ads being served on network TV. When a user watches a particular program, the Microsoft ad server will lookup relevant and appropriate ads from the network that produced the program and serve ads. If a show is recorded and watched repeatedly over time, different ads will be served. This method helps advertisers target and produce ads appropriately.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), a user can still opt to skip an add, regardless of whether or not they find the ad useful or not. Researchers say that more and more users are skipping ads. In fact, 15-percent is double the amount of ad-skippers from the previous year. According to Microsoft's filing:

The playback system (whether network-based or client-based) can then signal which advertisement region boundary has been crossed, and the advertisement manager can initiate that an advertisement obtained from the advertisement data store be provided as a second data stream to the playback system which renders the advertisement for viewing. The DVR can again provide the recorded media content for viewing when requested a second time.

Earlier this year, DailyTech reported that TiVo had stepped up to the advertising plate, launching an entire division dedicated to ad research. The plan was to monitor a select group of users and see when ads were skipped, where they skipped and for how long. TiVo mentioned that it would also launch a tracking and reporting program for ads, so that agencies can produce better targeted ads.

Some analysts and many users believe that as for as ads go, Microsoft won't be introducing anti-skipping technology anytime soon simply because the company is deep in the DVR market now -- eliminating one of the primary uses of a DVR will only directly affect its sales.  Many may recall that Microsoft was actually a DVR manufacturer several years ago after it pioneered the now defunct UltimateTV.

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RE: hmmm
By AlexWade on 12/11/2006 1:21:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not I. The primary reason for my DVR is skip those 3 minute long ads. Quite often, I'll pause live TV, go do something else, and then watch the program I wanted, ad-free.

If there were fewer ads, I'd be more inclined to watch them. And that is what advertisers don't get: when people are tuning you out, the way to get their eyes back to lay off not put out more. I have a business, so advertising isn't a bad thing. But, I decided not to run an ad that wasn't getting me any business. The company told me that I should continue because it increases my exposure, thus when people need your service they think of you. That, to me, is what is wrong with ads.

RE: hmmm
By RogueSpear on 12/11/2006 10:23:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think the company told you that the ads should continue so that they could sell you more advertising regardless of whether or not it's beneficial to you. Though I'm not sure of the relationship between you and this company, that's what I read out of it.

I agree exactly with what you stated though. My wife and I generally record everything we watch. You can blow through 3 hours of programming in about an hour and forty five minutes. Some programming in particular is literally 50% or more advertising. All of the UFC shows on Spike is a perfect example.

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