Tencent is Revolutionizing Movie Product Placement

Recently, I heard that a company is creating AI technology that would have the capabilities of placing ads on pretty much any surface in a movie. The company in question is China’s Tencent, the country’s largest video streaming company. In the very few articles available on the subject, it says that the company is testing its ability to place ads in old movies.

As Matthew Brennan points out, one of the major benefits of this new platform is that there are currently no ad-blocker for ad placements. For me, especially after watching the promotional video, my major concern is that we would have to deal with movies reminiscent of 90s websites: with pop-ups and ads attacking from all directions and not allowing the user to actually benefit from the movie. Slipping back into old habits, blinded by the promise of increased ad revenue, is definitely not a sustainable business model. Thus, I do not believe that simply bombarding the viewer with (currently) unblockable ads is the way to go.

Over the last couple of years, the marketing industry has built a relationship based on trust with its users. Most companies have abandoned the annoying door to door visits and the incessant phone calls in favor of showing users advertisement that might actually be of interest to them. This is a perfect opportunity to push that relationship of trust further by not imposing an exorbitant number of product ads in their entertainment.

Instead, they should use the user’s past behavior to understand more about them and to place a few but effective ads in their movies and series. Since most people now watch movies and series from some type of online service, it is much easier to get a good idea of the interests of a particular user and to cater the advertisements based on that user’s interests instead of simply running a mass marketing campaign. It would be very interesting if Tecent could modify its technology to make this type of personalized ad placement possible. Moreover, while there should be no text or excess elements to tip off the user that a particular item is an ad in order to not hinder the viewing experience, it coud be quite beneficial to include some information on the product in a similar way to the way Amazon displays the name of the actors and the name of the songs every time that the movie or series is paused.

Another benefit from this upcoming technology comes from the analytics point of view. Today, companies use a probabilistic method to determine how many people were watching television when an ad came on and how many of those people actually went on to buy the product marketed in the ad. With this method, however, marketers will be able to give a concrete number for both the number of views and the number of purchases due to sign-in reconciliation.

Thanks to China’s unfettered business environment, companies like Tencent have all the freedom to push the limits of technology without any regard for a moral limit. What lines do you think this technology should not be able to cross? How is this technology different from current online ads? How is it similar?

As always, I would love to hear your opinion !

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