Preparing for Targeted Ads and Better Metrics With Smart TVs

The advent of smart TVs connected to the Internet has opened up new ways to gather data about the viewing of TV shows and ads. Three companies — Sorenson Media, Alphonso and Verance — are getting ready to leverage new technologies. The first, which is known for its video compression and coding technology, has a way to detect and analyze what’s on a smart TV screen and play the ad best targeted for a specific household. The company has created deals with smart TV manufacturers to have access to the data necessary to do so.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the “national network or a local TV station … must install a Sorenson server, which creates a so-called ‘fingerprint’ of the content recognized by the technology in the TV screens.” Sorenson then analyzes the data “to help an advertiser serve a targeted TV ad to an individual household’s smart TV, whether it’s during cable or broadcast programming.”


Sorenson “also can license viewing data from third parties.” In replacing ads, “the advertiser whose commercial was replaced wouldn’t get charged” and “the new ad only gets placed when it’s sold for more than the original.” Sorenson takes a share of the revenue when it helps the station sell the inventory.

Alphonso “generates and analyzes TV viewing data that it collects through microphone-enabled apps on people’s phones,” which advertisers can use “to measure the effectiveness of their commercials and retarget consumers on other devices such as mobile phones.” The company has signed deals with about 1,000 developers of mobile apps that can listen to what’s on TV, but the user must opt in to enable the device’s microphone.

The app then matches an audio sample “to one of the many shows that’s automatically recognized by the company’s servers,” and also licenses data from Shazam and TiVo. Alphonso “partners with third-party data and tech firms to serve online ads,” and provides advertisers “information on the viewers and the actions they took after watching an ad.”

Verance, known for its Aspect watermark technology, is now getting into the TV ad business. A coalition of TV associations brought Verance in to assist with the new TV standard, ATSC 3.0, which will enable targeted ads to TV sets and mobile phones. Aspect can “generate data on which ads actually were presented on certain TVs or for certain households, as well as trigger the ads that are sent to viewers,” and can be licensed by “stations, TV manufacturers, advertisers and other technology companies.”

Advertisers and broadcasters will be able to serve targeted ads with the availability of TVs built to ATSC 3.0 specifications. Verance says it is currently working with one major broadcaster using Aspect and is “in talks with various TV manufacturers to include its watermark reader on their TVs.”

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