How to make TV ads useful

There is a way to actually make TV commercials useful rather than intrusive. My idea (patentable in the “easy” US, btw ;-) ), is this:

You introduce TVs that support Bluetooth with a brand new profile, let’s call it ADIP (”ADvertisement Information Profile”). Then, in the digital TV networks you introduce a line of text towards the end of each commercial in the “caption” data stream. In it, there is a URL included along with some identifier strings (e.g. #**http://www.osnews.com**#). When the Bluetooth-enabled TV reads that caption URL line (identified via the #** characters), then it automatically sends the URL to a nearby paired Bluetooth-enabled computer. A notification window pops up with the URL in it. The user (who presumably watches TV and has his/her laptop ON at the same time — something that I usually do) can choose to ignore the notification window, or click the link and load the default browser to learn more about the product that was just advertised on TV. Bluetooth on both the TV and computer can be easily turned OFF to avoid notification messages if needed.

Back in the late ’90s, a similar idea was the CueCat. That was a portable scanner that would read barcodes on printed ads on magazines and then it would offer more info about the product advertised. My idea is similar, but more convenient and more high-tech.

The downside of my idea though is that deaf people who don’t have a Bluetooth-enabled TV will still be shown the URL on their screen and they might not like this (supported TVs won’t display that particular URL line as it is supposed to be utilized by the Bluetooth module only). Another downside is that both Bluetooth stacks and TVs must support this new profile, and convincing so many different manufacturing, OS and Bluetooth-stack (e.g. Broadcomm) companies to write such code is a daunting task. Even if creating the BT profile might be easy (code-wise), getting them to do it is very difficult — which is why the Bluetooth Consortium must be part of it to exercise some “power” over its implementation.

Anyways, this idea can prove a good way to make these commercials actually useful. While I personally don’t pay much attention to them, there are a few products that I would be interested in if I had more information about them immediately (before the TV show starts again and I forget about it). During the time I was on my diet for example, one night I saw a commercial about a sprinkling salad dressing that only had 3 calories per sprinkle. I did not catch immediately the name of the product and so finding it via Google was very difficult. If such a BT profile existed, I would have had the info I needed in seconds. I believe that my idea is mutually beneficiary to both the viewer and the advertiser.

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mikesum32 wrote on November 9th, 2006 at 1:26 AM PST:

CueCat also had a little audio clip that would do the same, but only if your computer’s sound card was hooked up to the tv.

I googled it.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRQ

“a subsequent TV program introduced :CRQ technology, a TV and radio version of the :CueCat, which sent brief tones over the audio portion of a broadcast which were received by any sound card. These tones were logged by a TSR software program and launched or collected a deep URL for the program’s relevant web site. This technology was launched by NBC during their popular Thursday night “Must See TV!” in 2001.”

Anyone remember NetTalkLive ?

Dave Mathews, one of the hosts, and Jovan Philyaw, another were all tangled up in the CueCat crap.

Jovan Philyaw changed his name to J. Hutton Pulitzer, and is now selling crystals or something.


Adam wrote on November 9th, 2006 at 1:54 AM PST:

All of this depends on you actually WANTING to get these ads. I would do everything I can to NOT pair my TV with any Bluetooth devices. I already go out of my way not to see ads – I use Adblock, I have a VERY customized hosts file on Windows and /etc/hosts on Mac, I use a DVR to fast-forward my non-live shows. Why would I want ads to invade my computer and/or phone anymore than they already do?


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Eugenia wrote on November 9th, 2006 at 2:51 AM PST:

First of all, in the Bluetooth land, only whatever is paired works. So, if you never pair your TV with your PC or if your BT is OFF, this won’t work. Secondly, it is not an invasion of privacy. It just sends a piece of text, it does not read anything from your PC.

Personally, I see it as a convenience rather than an annoyance. There ARE some, few, products that while we are waiting for “Lost” or “Heroes” to restart after the commercial break that might interest us. It has happened to me on a few occasions.


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Eugenia wrote on November 9th, 2006 at 7:23 AM PST:

>If I did not ask the ad to be sent to my computer it is.

But YOU DID ask for the URL to come to your computer from the moment you PAIRED the two devices! If you didn’t pair the two devices together manually, then the TV can’t send it anywhere.

>The individual will be inundated with SPAM advertising.

The profile takes of that. Only ONE line of text is allowed per commercial (the URL). If they don’t want to send a URL, they can send a small text, but that it would only be one small sentence. So, it can’t be a lengthy spam.


memson wrote on November 9th, 2006 at 10:53 AM PST:

> it is not an invasion of privacy

If I did not ask the ad to be sent to my computer it is. You are confusing privacy of personal data with general privacy (i.e. using a changing room at a store rather than trying on clothes with people gawping at you.)

> So, if you never pair your TV with your PC or if your BT
> is OFF

Then there will be no revenue from it as advertisers will not pay the network to run the ads unless people are forced to look at the advertising whilst the program is live in air.

> Personally, I see it as a convenience rather than an annoyance

Many more would see it as an invasion – the word SPAM comes to mind. It would be unsollicited advertising – how is that any different to SPAM. It is not targeting the individual, it’s blanket attacking people.

> There ARE some, few, products that while we are waiting
> for “Lost” or “Heroes” to restart after the commercial
> break that might interest us

Yeah, but that isn’t what will happen. The individual will be inundated with SPAM advertising. It’s a sucky idea. I don’t doubt it’ll happen, but it sucks.


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Eugenia wrote on November 11th, 2006 at 8:15 AM PST:

>Maybe I do want to know about certain things, but this wouls allow any advert on TV to send me the SPAM URL.

*But that’s the point*. EACH ad sends a URL every 30 seconds. It can’t be done otherwise! It is difficult for Bluetooth to connect manually and fetch the requested info exactly within 30 seconds (before the other ad starts). It is easier for the TV to simply send out all URLs and you click it or not. And if you don’t want to receive it, you turn off that service on your computer. In your popup window it could be a stack of the last 10 URLs, just in case you missed the one you wanted. But having the user manually retrieving the URL he/she needs only, that’s very difficult, technically speaking. Most users won’t even understand how to do it either.


memson wrote on November 11th, 2006 at 11:19 AM PST:

> But YOU DID ask for the URL to come to your computer from
> the moment you PAIRED the two devices!

No, you miss the point. Maybe I do want to know about certain things, but this wouls allow any advert on TV to send me the SPAM URL.

> The profile takes of that.

No it doesn’t. There is no opt out clause. I can’t control what is and is not sent to me.

> Only ONE line of text is allowed per commercial (the
> URL). If they don’t want to send a URL, they can send a
> small text, but that it would only be one small sentence.
> So, it can’t be a lengthy spam.

The page the URL redirects to is the SPAM.

Okay.. I want to watch Lost. Every week they advertise “French bon-bons” and I really like them, so I pair my TV to my computer. How do I filter out everything else? I don’t care about automotive products, computer dating, visiting Ireland or any other consumer product.

By definition, you will end up with so many SPAM URL redirections, that no one will want to pair the TV, so what is the point in creating the profile in the first place?


memson wrote on November 13th, 2006 at 5:45 AM PST:

> In your popup window it could be a stack of the last 10 URLs,

*BANG* you just blew your own foot off. Exactly what I would not want. Exactly what most users would not want too. You and 500 other geeks maybe, not consumers.


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Eugenia wrote on November 13th, 2006 at 10:17 AM PST:

You don’t get it Memson. This is not an invasion. This is CONCIOUSLY activating this ability. If a user doesn’t want it, he/she never has to pair his computer with the TV, or turn off Bluetooth on the TV’s side, or disable that service on his PC. This service is only for those who WANT it. It is NOT going to appear all of a sudden on a user/viewer’s PC out of nowhere while he watches TV.


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