Apple wants to Erase your Radio Spots

Another day, another technology-driven way to undo advertising.  Forget the fact that advertising is what pays for most of the content we enjoy on TV or radio.

Apple was just granted a patent for technology that would allow users to switch seamlessly to their own audio or video files once ads started playing on their TV or radio stations.

I don’t know how this could affect listening to radio on traditional radios (still the way most folks get their radio) – it would certainly affect listening mediated by more advanced tech gadgets.  Not that those are catching on, or anything.

The Wrap reports:

As for Apple’s plan, according to the patent approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: “When an electronic device determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user, the electronic device can switch playback from the media stream to a media item from the electronic device local library,” the patent said.

Once the “non-interesting” item appears, the user’s iTunes library would kick in and play music, video or a podcast.

In case you think this is all about TV, not radio, consider the title of the Patent: Seamless switching between radio and local media.

I’m assuming “local” in this context means content on your device.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  You can bet that the power players in the entertainment industry – especially in television – will be none too happy.

Look for advertising and content to become increasingly inseparable. Sponsorship and spots are not the same thing – nor are content and advertising – but their dollars come from the same place.  And they will become more and more identical.

Think those annoying promotional snipes at the bottom of your favorite TV shows are annoying now?

Just wait.

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  • As well they must! Thanks Carter.

  • joh ford

    Until there is an actual product, this is nothing but vaporware. Apple files hundreds of patents per year (around 600 in 2011) and the vast majority of them never see the light of day. You can even keep track of such things at http://www.patentlyapple.com/ I know everyone wants headlines, but getting worked up about a product that doesn’t exist (see… kickstarter) usually generates more heat than light.

  • I think the trend I note is real no matter how close or far this product is to reality.
    Mark Ramsey

  • Patrick Couch

    This is akin to skipping TV commercials or changing the channel during a radio break. Apple taking steps to automate the experience based on my habits or preference is welcome.

    If I choose to “Dis-Like” a commercial why would an advertiser want to continue wasting their money on me. If anything this opens the door for another advertiser to give it a shot. Eventually the publisher and advertisers will have a MUCH better idea of what products/ads should be served to me making that a more valuable impressions.

  • Steve Mays

    It is difficult to get around (or over or under) the reality that people do not want to see/hear commercial messages that have no relevance for them. They’ve learned to love deciding what they hear/see/read and expect to have the same control over commercial messages.

    I remain convinced that advertising as we have known it morph (is morphing?) to the point we do not recognize it. And the gravy train has probably left the station, never to return.

  • Skipping the commercials or changing the station is not an automated process. That’s the big difference.
    Your point about advertising is right, but the whole model is built to interrupt first and to serve a distant second.
    Mark Ramsey

  • Maybe so, but don’t imagine that interruptive advertisers will creep off quietly into the night. More likely, they will remake content in their own image.
    Mark Ramsey

  • Anonymous

    Could be. I would also amplify this further…. the trend for listeners to not want to listen to radio commercials is probably as old as broadcasting itself. I would imagine that radio programmers were probably just as much, if not more up in arms about the advent of push-button tuners in car dashboards than ‘we’ are apoplectic about this patent. Those contact switches and relays with pulleys were going to spell the end of commercial broadcasting as they knew it. Don’t even bring up the remote control for my telly! And of course, all of this assumes that the algorithms that may or may not have been worked out for this patent will deliver content to the listener that may or may not be “of interest” to the listener at any given moment. In my heart of hearts I believe that this patent would have about as much impact on the typical Apple consumer as Ping! http://bit.ly/aCMKnW

  • My points are not addressed to the typical Apple consumer. They’re addressed to the industry that considers advertising and spots its lifeblood.

  • Matt

    – Could this be also a way for Apple to avoid paying streaming royalty rates if a user already owns a track played on a stream service? Not crazy.

    – Considering all those podcasts and content coming through Apple devices today, especially that masterpiece of Apple TV and its slick menu, not to mention stabilizing revenue sources (their hardware market share is high), perhaps a feature like this is exactly what Apple is waiting for to open the floodgates for advertising in their platform. Even 1 little commercial per hour would be a massive source of $$$ for them. Its an extension of iAD, except on all Apple products. Except you don’t know its Apple sending you the ad, because you’re watching that other guy’s show.

  • I have no doubt that Apple wants a bigger piece of the advertising pie, no matter whose content it piggybacks on!

  • Engaging ads don’t get zapped. Apple’s just given broadcasters another reason to raise the bar on the commercials they produce.

  • Anonymous

    Well I can tell one TV provider that wont be upset over this
    and that’s Dish! Dish is already offering their customer’s a way for them to
    skip commercials and this feature is called Auto Hop. My Dish coworker told me
    that the Hopper is the only DVR that has this feature, and they caught a lot of
    criticism over it. This is exactly what customers want but of course networks
    are very up set over this, and apparently radio providers as well. Apple’s
    ad-skipping feature actually replaces customer’s commercials with their iTunes
    music and music videos. I prefer Dish’s method because it allows me to get back
    to the program that I’m watching instead of offering me a substitute for a few

  • Dish’s solution is fine – as long as every distribution channel that helps advertisers finance the programs we love doesn’t copy it.

  • David

    Mark, I understand your point, but advertising doesn’t pay for any of what I listen to on radio. I find commercial radio to be pretty much unlistenable, between the ads themselves and the personality jocks. Fortunately here in L.A we have KCRW, which is listener supported, and plays better (more diverse) music than the commercial stations.

  • Fair enough! And I hope my client KCRW appreciates your plug!

    Mark Ramsey