I Have NO Idea Who This Guy Was Talking To

Michael Arden, an analyst with New York-based ABI Research, said “ultimately they want TV shows with products onscreen that you can click and save information about them or buy them.

…but it SURE wasn’t me. Or major dad. Or Ebola. Or…I can’t think of a soul that would go for this. Just the thought of pop-ups on my TV screen is making my eyes glaze over red. I hate the little station promos traipsing across the bottom as it is.

14 Responses to “I Have NO Idea Who This Guy Was Talking To”

  1. Rob says:

    “He predicts advertisers will crave customer data from those experiences to find out who requested those ads and where they live.”
    You betcha. And that’s when DirecTV/Dish/LocalCableOperator will feel some customer wrath.

  2. Nightfly says:

    I can’t even stand it that the credits for EVERYTHING are crushed to the side or bottom while the ads for horrible crap run in the center… I mean, what if I wanted to know who That Guy was in the major supporting role, and IMDB wasn’t an option? Is it fair to the cast and crew to shrink their contributions down to subatomic text while I hear yet another screeching promo for CSI: Saginaw?
    This is all Fox’s fault – it started with the “Fox Box” on their football telecasts, and now every network has so many overlays on the screen that half the time I can’t tell what the athletes are doing. Watch a classic broadcast and it’s amazing how there’s nothing on but, you know, the ACTUAL GAME.

  3. Ken Summers says:

    Rob, I predict customers will crave data about the advertisers to find out who they are and where they live…

  4. DirtCrashr says:

    Heh, I worked on some of that context-based sales stuff about five years ago, right before we were bought by Gemstar and then they bought TV-Guide – we licensed the On-Screen interactive Guide technology patents to the aforementioned DirecTV/Dish/LocalCableOperator.
    Once in place TVG was pushing for revenues and I was doing interactive promo art/ads that were within the Guide that TVG was running, I hated it (and them) and got moved to eBooks. Then they pulled the plug on eBooks.
    What we were doing wasn’t just overlays and crawls like the insanity of Bloombnerg and Fox, that shit is cheap to implement from the cable head-end but the narrow-urethra of TV bandwidth can barely handle just that anyhow, let alone the viewer.
    With our stuff you have to pop-up the Guide and go to a fan-based or show-based merchandising thing. 5 patents on that interactive stuff, I doubt they’ll be able to implement it until cable companies expand memory in their boxes, and that costs those bastard penny-pinchers money and will make them listen to customers – so it won’t happen.
    But the talking head media-prognosticators who don’t have a clue about the technology foam away at the mouth: the ad-guys always want that back-channel info, the broadcaster always wants to be able to sell it, and the print-media guys always pin that hope on everything that goes across their radar.

  5. Thank goodness for the resident expert!! I salute you, my good man. (Rob got the jelly donut and hasn’t returned it, or I’d give you that, too. It’s an awkward situation…)

  6. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Yeeeech! Pop up ads on TV? Screw that. And the idiot(s) pushing it.

  7. Rob says:

    It’s been over a year. Maybe it’s time to pony up the 30 cents and get another one, ths. I’d send you some beignets but it’s not the same. You really need to eat those here.

  8. DirtCrashr says:

    We always wanted the Interactive Guide to remain central and user-based, but everybody from Marketing to the Management Team was throwing all sorts of wacky half-baked ideas including the kitchen sink. “News-Sports-Weather” was a constant refrain and we could do that but none of those things lead to a revenue stream, not Horoscopes either. People just aren’t interested in paying extra for what is otherwise free crap simply because it’s there – and if it’s in-the-way they want to be able to remove or delete it. Just as you say.
    Under the control of Gemstar/TVG they removed aspects of the Guide we previously had under user-control, like channel line-up, and channel order, and channel *existence* (you could delete and skip unwanted channels)- they could negotiate with Broadcasters for highest bidder or advertiser slot and pick up some money there. They were taking more and more away from the customer-level, and finally putting ads inside the Guide.
    The interactive ads were painful to produce because the graphic limitations were so huge and sucky. In order to crunch them down and fit them in the stream with engineering algorithm, they were half 16 and 24-colors, up to a certain pixel line. 16-colors is like 5-NTSC colors available that didn’t make you puke, very limited palette and one which was constantly being second-guessed by a person on a phone down in SoCal…
    Also the people in Pasadena were royal bitches, rolling into work at 10:00AM and calling up on the phone with wholescale changes for big batches of ads at 4:30 on Friday afternoon – stuff that wouldn’t be done until 9:00PM at best and stuff they could have told you TUESDAY, but didn’t. That $#%* only takes a couple times to experience before shut-down occurs.
    The hurdle is the narrow-urethra of TV bandwidth, even with digital there’s equipment cost that are exquisitely painful to bottom-line oriented profit-maximizers, the penny-pinching by the satellite guys and the cable operators. They all believe it’s “their” baby, whether it’s the Bird or the cable head-end, and must extract money from it somehow, whether charging a toll for bouncing a transmission across it 9-miles up, or you have a weenie set-top box that needs a memory upgrade.
    Cable can’t upgrade the fleet of set-top boxes without big expense, and the satellite guys have to do it in software or up on the bird somehow with EPROMS, and that costs a lot of engineering-time – so they don’t and instead maximize profits over costs, leaving their consumer at arms length or further.
    The funny thing from what I’ve heard, is that the satellite Execs and those guys act like they work at NASA and are Military Rocket Scientists, well it’s their Bird up there so they can rub up on that all they want…
    Anyhow it was a good bunch of people to work with for a while.

  9. Nightfly says:

    Crashr, you’re the man. My objection was that more clutter was the last thing your average consumer would want, but you’ve explained the tech much better than I ever could have.
    I’m still trying to wrap my head around something, though. Obviously the motivation is increased business. In order to gain that through a pop-up service, you’d have to design it so that the service itself wasn’t rejected by consumers. Why would they insist that consumers ought not to have control over that service? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
    Am I missing something or is this what actually was happening (aside from technical issues)?

  10. DirtCrashr says:

    There’s so little visual real-estate to work within the video “safe zone” that clutter really IS bad, besides being obnoxious and sloppy. It’s hard to see the motivation except dollar-signs when something is anti-consumer and unfriendly, but Real Networks and other consumer-spying companies persist.
    Alternatively, some consumer controls wouldn’t be noticed or missed if they were not turned-on and advertised as features, like ordering up the channels the way you wanted – which was also something more easily offered on a set-top basis than via satellite because of the mechanisms at work. As I’ve been told: Imagine like a giant carousel-cassette thing up in space with rotating slots down which info slides to each receiver, depending on your location-index-thing to fit your individual channel-mapping, (thus the slight pause and delay in channel-info delivery), slotting into guides across the country at the request-signal.
    Other things like the decision to lock down and sell the Channel Order was a significant sales-lever to the Cable Operator hitting on his Broadcaster clients, hit the Guide and look who’s always on top. Money or some deal keeps them there.
    Some Broadcasters were (probably still are) pretty hostile to the On-Screen Guide since it costs some money AND facilitates changing channels – it makes the “What the Hell Else is On?” game even easier to navigate (away).
    They want total audience capture.
    Another reason for “dark” features might be that opening different access gateways enables them to direct the consumer experience as they proceed through the Guide.
    I believe one advertising revenue target was also eyeballs on branded-product, and each Channel counts as a Product impression, so leading along a certain path might maximize a fractional eyeball percentage of revenues. I think they had some pretty strenuous spreadsheet exercises going.
    Alternatively they may shut a feature down because it requires too much engineering overhead, or because THEY have decided what is best for The Little People and limit capability. IMO that is the more typical basis.

  11. DirtCrashr says:

    Since all that crap didn’t really answer your question, I’d say the operators would have to implement a self-disolving pop-up – annoying but with a tolerable threshold that directed viewers to a choice/alternate — like you’re at a Baseball game and hear, “Peanuts! Hot Dogs!” – you can divert your attention or keep your eyes on the game. Everybody hates them anyway and I don’t think they even care because they feel like they have a real hook in their subscribers. Like AOL…
    Oh yeh, “we” bought SkyMall, that airline catalog, just so they’d have a means to fullfil orders on all sorts of CRAP. But it takes time to handle a product – pack-ship-and-receive. But if they offered immediacy like an electronic download they would subvert their whole empire and control-paradigm, wouldn’t they?
    That would be cool.

  12. Cindermutha says:

    They’ve had non-stop commercials for “Interactive TV” for the last month, like its a good thing. They better have a way to turn it off.

  13. Nightfly says:

    My eyes are still half-glazed contemplating this. The solution may be to just hit the off button on the box and stick to books.

  14. DirtCrasher, that has to be one of the most mind boggling, eye crossing and informative comment string I’ve ever seen. You da man.

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