3D technology: The future of TV advertising?

We recently had the chance to speak to Dr. Tim Harris, VP of Engineering at advertising technology company Mirriad, about its new software enabling the implementation of 3D advertising into video content.

  1. Tell us a bit about your background.

I was asked to join Mirriad because of my background in media processing and computer vision technologies. I started off at a renowned UK broadcasting equipment manufacturer, and then moved on to Digital Vision working on new restoration and colour correction software before moving into advertising with Mirriad in March 2013.

I have a doctorate in System Level Integration, focusing on broadcast and distributed systems, from the University of Glasgow. I am also heavily involved with the UK section of the Society for Motion Picture & Television Engineers.

  1. Explain what this new technology does.

We use a lot of computer vision and automation to help integrate brands into the content we love to watch. The 3D technology we are developing, and planning to release this year, allows us to integrate 3D models from brands into a scene.

For example, we can integrate a car into content to make it look as though it has always been there. This further helps us when working with different types of camera movements, and brands and objects that are potentially too large to integrate into a scene using our original technology.

For instance, from a logistical point of view, some products are too large to ship around the world so our technology effectively acts as a cost and time-saving solution for all involved in the production process.

You also have a regional difference in the size and shape of product packaging – for example a Coke can in Japan is a different shape to the can in the US – so there are lots of different variants to take into consideration, and our new 3D tech not only helps make this possible without having to gather these variants into one place.

  1. What are the main benefits that this type of technology offers to advertisers?

The main benefits of this technology centre on the high quality of the output, the ease with which these new in-video ads can now be media planned and bought, and consumer engagement that results from these campaigns.

The technology allows the radical time-saving needed to create the scale for multi-program (and often multi-channel) campaigns.

With our technology, the process does not interrupt the flow of the content and research shows that consumer engagement with a particular product or brand is vastly increased when our technology is applied to the content (in comparison with traditional advertising outside the content).

  1. What kind of brands/products do you see as being most suited to 3D advertising?

As mentioned, from a logistical point of view large goods such as fridges and cars work well gain the most benefit.

We have worked with most of the top tier automakers in the world. Products or brands where there are lots of variants, such as crisps or drinks, are also well-suited to this strand of computer vision advertising.

Using 3D models in native video advertising also lends itself well to products that have been designed but are either not yet off the factory line, or are under embargo.

  1. Thinking about the cost and time it will take to make a 3D advert, how does this differ compared to traditional TV advertising?

3D native advertising differs to traditional TV advertising most notably because products, signage, and other forms of branded assets in professionally produced video content are integrated directly into the content that people enjoy watching, rather than in traditional ad breaks.

It goes far beyond traditional product placement, which has been typically about putting brands into the programming as it’s being created (and at risk of winding up on the cutting room floor), as advertisers buy units similar to traditional advertising slots.

In an increasingly attention-based economy, the advertising industry is looking for a more effective ad units to counter a radical erosion of traditional ad effectiveness. By creating ad units in the content we enable brands and advertisers to be in the one place where a consumer’s attention is still focussed.

6. What trends do you think we'll see emerge in the coming years in the advertising industry?

The ads of the future will be increasingly engaging and relevant. Whether this is on TV, online video platforms or mobile applications, context will reign supreme.

It may be controversial to say, but in the right context brands can actually enhance an experience. Watch any BBC soap and you’ll notice the unnatural lack of any brands, with producers preferring to spend time constructing fictional brands and products.

A successful advert of the future will no longer grab you by the collar and shake you down, it will integrate into your everyday experiences, complementing the entertainment you love to watch.