Imagine a world where the TV shows and movies you watch are supported not only by digitally-inserted brand placements, but also in which those insertions are custom-targeted at individual viewers.

On your screen, a character lifts a can of Mountain Dew but, on your friend’s, it is a can of Pepsi.

That is the world now coming in to view, thanks to computer vision technology that is already connected to ad sales systems and which, next, will be upgraded to dynamically serve different viewers with unique play-outs.

In this interview with Beet.TV, Stephan Beringer, CEO of Mirriad, explains how his company enables post-production brand insertion for makers and distributors of TV shows and movies. That could include:

  • real-world objects that weren’t in the original shoot, like a vehicle or a packet of potato chips.
  • overlaying existing ad creatives, like display ads on to computer screens or out-of-home ads on to street billboards.

Mirriad has already been enabling this new revenue stream – which aims to be an antidote to commercial break fatigue – for content owners since it launched more than a decade ago, allowing them to sell placements where none were planned at production, insertable up to two hours before airing. But the latest step is making those insertions viewer-targeted.

Varied versions

“All the platforms are, literally, as we speak, getting ready for that, if they’re not already, it’s just a matter of a couple of months from now,” Beringer says.

“What we can expose in the content will now be made available in an addressable manner. You will have data triggers and business rules that determine what is being played out to which audience.

“You could be seeing the same movie that I’m watching on a platform, but you might be seeing a slightly different version, because the same product comes in a variation for you and a different one for me.

“So we are definitely ready. We’re starting to do that. I cannot talk too much about with whom, but basically, our technology allows for the rendering of different versions.”

A solution for ‘skipping’?

Mirriad launched near London in 2007, took several rounds of investment and listed on the UK’s AIM market in 2017. Beringer became CEO in September 2018, replacing Mark Popkiewicz after 11 years, following several years at Publicis, which Beringer ended as global president of data, technology and innovation.

After spending a couple of decades in the ad agency world, Beringer has now become a realist about the state of ad effectiveness.

“I dare to say, people have been educated to look away from advertising,” he laments. “One of the most used buttons on the internet is probably the ‘Skip Ad’ button. No offence.”

Emotional context

That is why Mirriad, which also has a New York office, wants the industry to take a different tack. Its technology ingests and, using AI, scans large volumes of programming in order to identify viable, buyable places for its systems to perform brand insertions.

Beringer claims that this process of “fracking” the content can create contextual moments that are supremely useful for advertisers seeking the right adjacency.

Enabling brand insertions in programming could be one way to unlock marketing opportunities in a world that is shifting toward ad-free, subscription video. It could also be a way for rightsholders to unlock such opportunities even in library shows and movies that were not shot with future placements in mind.

Placed within the right scripted moments, Mirriad thinks the insertions could also leverage dramatic emotion for greater effect. It recently commissioned a neurological study it says shows the link between particular emotional responses and brand uplift for distinct product types.

Mirriad works with broadcasters like RTL, TF1 and Univision, and this October announced it would be exclusive supplier to video platforms of Tencent, China’s massive online services company.