- Channel 4, the public broadcasting network in the U.K., announced on Wednesday that it's testing a TV ad tech tool powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to let brands place ads around relevant scenes in shows, according to a company news release.
- The Contextual Moments tool identifies unique scenarios within shows that could serve as "valuable contextual opportunities" for marketers. For example, a tea brand could run an ad during a commercial break following a scene that showed a character drinking a cup of tea. The AI tech uses audio and visual cues from shows to automatically identify these potential moments. Channel 4's team then confirms the placement for stronger brand safety, per the release.
- The test follows Channel 4 and BDRC Continental research that found that viewers were twice as likely to remember ads that they saw at contextually relevant moments, compared to traditional TV spots. These ads led to a 13% boost in purchase intent, 12% lift in positive brand perception and 34% jump in "spontaneous awareness." More than 70% of those surveyed said they preferred the contextual ads.
As viewership of traditional TV continues to dip, networks are seeking fresh ways to attract advertisers looking for more effective ways of connecting with audiences. Channel 4's AI-powered tool highlights how more sophisticated technology could enrich ad targeting and deliver more personalized, relevant content during people's TV-watching sessions. As the network's early research shows, these contextual ads drive solid results for advertisers due to "semantic priming," the idea that humans more easily remember a word or item after being recently exposed to a related word or item, per the release.
Contextual targeting may become more attractive to marketers under the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires consumers provide explicit consent to be served a targeted ad. Many marketers and publishers are still unsure of the true impact of GDPR, even beyond the EU borders, and some are naturally hesitant to take risks for fear of consequences. This has led some marketers to shift their budgets, with a greater investment in contextual targeting over personalized, audience-based targeting, Digiday reports.
Marketers continue to express interest in AI to aid campaign measurement, data analysis and customer service, with 53% of B2B marketers saying AI will boost ROI. Some U.S.-based companies have also unveiled AI-powered solutions to help marketers better target their ads. In March, NBCUniversal announced a tool that scans TV show scripts and matches them with relevant advertisers. In February, The New York Times launched NytDEMO, a team that's developed several AI products to predict audiences' emotional responses to content and identify topics that people are interested in to help brands target and create relevant content that resonates.