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Microsoft Patent and the Future of Advertising

by David Sturtz

The patent system may be getting out of hand (understatement). Microsoft’s WebTV has received a patent for, “methods and apparatus for encouraging viewers to pay attention to television programs, commercials in particular, by offering viewers some incentive to watch.”

What it boils down to is some sort of electronic quiz where you rack up points/prizes for correctly answering questions that somehow indicate you are paying attention to the advertising.

Looks like they’re fishing for a solution to the declining impact of advertising on consumers (very interesting Economist article), combined with the challenges that will be presented by digital video broadcasting. Also in the Economist article:

… Microsoft is working on a search system with the intention of leapfrogging Google. Microsoft and others see that as more types of media, including music and films, start to be distributed over the internet, there will be more opportunities for online operators to put advertising messages in front of consumers.

Seems like the incentive might be the music, film, or television program itself? Correctly answer questions about three commercials and you get to watch the first half of the new episode of Hope and Faith. Oh, goody.

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