Microsoft demos its ideas on next-gen advertising technologies

February 6, 2008 by Dave Haynes

People love to kick around Microsoft for often being a little behind the real curve, but Steve and the guys have market share, money and a lot of very bright people … so scoff at your peril.

That said, the Microsoft demo fest the company did for its next-generation digital advertising technologies Tuesday in Redmond doesn’t get the heart racing. Some of the highlighted stuff, in fact, seems familiar and some of it goofy.

The technologies highlighted at this event, says a press release, included the latest advances and algorithms in content analysis and computer vision for video and images, speech recognition for contextual video ads, and advanced marketing intelligence that enable enhanced audience insight and better targeting capabilities for advertisers.

“We believe the technical advances and intelligence we are creating at adCenter Labs can change the game of online advertising,” said Tarek Najm, technical fellow at Microsoft. “Solutions to today’s challenges must be capable of handling and understanding the complexity of vast amounts of data. To address that challenge, we are developing advertising algorithms that can anticipate and understand consumer behavior faster than the speed of thought, so that we can help advertisers create more efficient and relevant user experiences.”

Some of the stuff highlighted is purely online for online, but there’s also:

Air Wave. This technology creates a “fourth screen” experience beyond the TV, PC and mobile phone to enable advertisers to engage consumers outside of the home in public places such as an airport or a shopping mall. By using an interactive, multitouch screen display, consumers can play games or interact with advertisements to receive coupons or product information. With the help of a webcam, they can try on products such as sunglasses virtually. This technology builds on the “large display ads” technology showcased at last year’s Demo Fest.

How Microsoft lays claim to something a bunch of companies are doing, I dunno.

Intelligent Bug Ads. This technology balances the interests of advertisers and the target audience by locating nonintrusive frames in a video in which to place ads. By using a computer vision algorithm to calculate the least intrusive spot in the video, it approximates human judgment and places the ad in the video where it is least likely to
interfere with the consumer’s viewing experience.

Yes, viewers will LOVE that. ???

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer sent a reporter to the demo and he shot a couple of videos posted with his blog, the first showing how this works. Again, this is maybe more juiced up than software already out there, but it’s already out there.

Contextual Ads for Video. Through speech recognition, this technology enables ads to be dynamically served based on the content discussed in the video. For example, if the topic of the video was gardening, ads related to gardening or lawn improvement could be served in an adjacent text-based ad as the video played. For advertisers, this provides access to consumers while at the point of consideration.

Or you use existing software and just schedule content and ads to, accurately, play together.

Hmmmm. Now granted much of the Microsoft effort is on the online side, and THAT stuff might be slick as hell for all I know. But there’s certainly nothing on the digital signage side that would give me cause to think they’re coming hard into our space. If they were interested, the money is there to just buy an industry player and re-badge their offer.

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