Adverts are often some of the most creative and entertaining things on TV. But more often, they're monotonous, boring and irrelevant to you, the viewer. With that in mind, Gracenote - a company famous for identifying music - plans to launch a new system in 2013 that aims to provide adverts relevant to you.
The system uses a fingerprinting technology that allows hardware in the viewer's home to know when an advert break comes along. It's then able to use a database of information about you - sourced in the US from a company such as Invidi which has details about your income, home ownership situation and marital status - to choose a relevant advert from an IP-based ad company.
Then, as your regular TV show is playing, an Opera-powered browser will display a targeted ad, right into your eyeballs - and presumably money into a few other people's pockets. It's both gross and awe-inspiring at the same time. But this is something that web browsers will be aware of, as Google already uses a very similar system to pump your brain full of "relevant" adverts. It's all great in theory, but of course it means if you accidentally search for a shed, you'll be seeing shed adverts for the next month. Not as useful as the ad agencies might think.
Of course, there are all sorts of issues here. Could Gracenote override the networks' adverts, taking money for itself and its hardware partners? Sony, which owns Gracenote, would be quite happy with this situation. From what TechCrunch is reporting, everyone is happy working together on this at the moment, with an eye on making ads much more relevant, and thus, much more profitable.
And for the US, this has an interesting side-effect. Often, shows that get a lot of viewers might be cancelled because the demographic watching isn't profitable. The core audience for advertisers is 18 to 49-year-olds, because these are the people who buy things. But perhaps shows might generate more income for their networks through targeted ads, and maybe that could mean better, more diverse, TV programmes.
If there are plans to bring this to the UK, we haven't heard of them yet. It's certainly an idea worth considering though. We can see how people would sit through an advert for something they're interested in, rather than a cream for a kind of bottom complaint they have yet to experience.