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Adtech firm SilverPush will scan video content to serve better in-video ads

Indian adtech firm SilverPush has launched Mirrors, an artificial intelligence-driven technology that aims to deliver more relevant in-video ads by way of analysing what appears in the content.

Mirrors does this using a context detection technology on videos being viewed online. It analyses logos, faces, emotions or objects and then delivers an in-video ad that is connected to the content.

Speaking to Mumbrella, SilverPush chief revenue officer Kartik Mehta said: “For instance, if people are watching a soccer game, our technology can determine logos and objects on screen and serve up relevant ads. People are more inclined to see such messages at the time, since they are already engrossed in that content.”

Mehta: Relevant contextual video ads are better than annoying irrelevant ones

An invariable problem with contextual advertising is it typically increases suspicion among consumers that they are being spied on, or that ad companies are playing fast and loose with privacy norms.

It is a problem SilverPush is all too familiar with. Audio beacon, a previous product from SilverPush resided within mobile phone apps, and listened in for audio cues to determine what a consumer may be watching on television. It then would serve up related ads. The company claims these cues were inaudible to the human ear but SilverPush came in for a huge degree of censure for eavesdropping on consumers. 

Pointing out there are companies in India and Australia still using similar technology, Mehta said: “Audio beacon was supposed to be for the benefit of marketers. But the way it was presented, people concluded we were listening to their conversations. We tried to explain, but panic set in and the management team chickened out.”

Mehta who was not part of the management team at the time added: “Our business was down from millions of dollars to zero in two weeks.”

Asked if privacy concerns are likely to affect Mirrors, Mehta said: “Today, the same audience is bombarded with videos that may not make sense to them. We are trying to make advertising more meaningful. If someone is watching a travel show for instance, it makes sense to be served an ad for an airline. But people may not want that ad when watching a soap opera.”

According to Mehta, since the ads are embedded within video, they escape being removed by ad blockers. The technology has been in beta-testing for three months in the Philippines and Thailand, with CPG companies and an insurance firm.

SilverPush claims it is keeping brand safety at the forefront, with violence and nudity off-limits.

Mirrors launches at a time when over-the-top video is expected to boom in the Asia-Pacific region. A study from marketing data analytics firm Dataxu claimed OTT video and pay-TV will be worth $77.4 billion by 2021.

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