ITV tests embedded ads in TV programmes

LONDON - ITV is trialling new overlay ad technology, which will allow ads to be embedded into blank space during TV programmes.

The technology, developed by Californian start-up Keystream, uses complex computer algorithms to find clear space such as sky or blank walls to display company logos or messages.

It is currently being tested during local news footage on ITV's website but if successful the broadcaster plans to transfer it to the television screen.

Advertisers taking part in the trial include the price comparison site USwitch.com and digital satellite service Freesat.

Simon Fell, head of future technology at ITV, told The Times: "There's a lot of potential. If there's a scene in a programme where there's time, then it could give us a chance to get an ad away.

"But obviously on television you won't be seeing one of these appearing at a crunch point in a drama."

It is not yet known how the new technology will fit within current broadcasting regulations or how Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority will react.

The embedded ads could help ITV to hit its advertising targets. Yesterday the broadcaster revealed that it would be cutting 1,000 jobs by early next year because of a severe downturn in advertising.

The unions have threatened to strike over the redundancies, which will hit the regional news division hardest with approximately 430 job losses.