Ever write a message in Gmail and notice seconds later an advertisement related to what you just sent? Behavioral-based advertising is now the norm on the Web, but the often-frustrating marketing tool could soon benefit consumers as much as it benefits advertisers. At yesterday's Intel showcase, the Labs team showed off their "Personalized TV," which connects your laptop, cable box, and television together, and scans your Internet browsing patterns to offer TV show recommendations, from YouTube to boob tube.
The demonstrations were basic, with searches for "football" on Amazon suggesting NFL games or ESPN:
Suggestions immediately show up on your TV guide:
Like most of Intel's showcased tech, it's a long way from market. But technology like this could eventually be a treasure-trove for marketers, who could mine couch potatoes for everything they're worth. Imagine if advertisers could track your behavior and interests while surfing TV channels, and custom-tune the commercials you see both on television and the Web? It's a marketers dream, especially if they could balance this data with your Web-surfing habits. The demo showcased some model advertisements, which are overlayed along the bottom of your screen:
Intel clearly realizes the potential for such television-based behavioral advertising, but described the technology as purely beneficial to the customer. "It's not more advertising, it's relevant advertising," says Mark Jarvis of Intel Labs. "You could potentially have less ads because they are more valuable to the advertiser." Jarvis explained that the new deals and offers would be "helpful" for your average viewer. Helpful? I'm skeptical. I'll bet advertisers are already gearing up to use this as a DVR-killer, overlaying your screen with personalized ads while you hopelessly try to fast forward through commercials to get to Lost.