The Cognitive Networks platform, which is being added to 2012 and 2013 LG Smart TVs, uses a form of automatic content recognition (ACR) to determine what you’re watching and deliver interactive ads, polls, quizzes, and even coupons based on what’s on your screen right now.
This isn’t a wholly unprecedented move for LG, who is already using Cognitive Networks’ technology to support Showtime’s SHO Sync app, which syncs up with live, recorded, or OnDemand versions of shows like Dexter to provide interactive elements.
It’s a neat alternative to the second-screen experience, for sure. I’ve been re-watching Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy on Blu-ray recently, and found the Picture-in-Picture feature included with Batman Begins reasonably enjoyable for what it was, but ended up ignoring the synced Dark Knight Rises FX HD iPad app entirely after a few minutes. Maybe it’s just a generational thing. But as much as I enjoy interactive content, I can really only concentrate on one screen at a time.
At any rate, I expect advertisers to start hopping on this sort of technology as quickly as possible. And as a marketing tactic it may just work to replace or at least augment the standard linear commercials that most viewers completely ignore these days (except on Super Bowl Sunday). If, that is, companies like Cognitive Networks continue to use such interactive features as a carrot rather than a stick. For now, the automatic content recognition is entirely voluntary and easy to turn off. And as long as it remains embedded within TVs — not cable boxes — that may continue to be the case. If so, this could be a win-win for everyone: viewers have access to fun advertising that appeals directly to them, and advertisers have a direct pipeline to a very targeted demographic.