June 11, 2006

CHASE: Half Minute Media

I thoroughly enjoyed this month's CHASE meeting. Richard Konig gave a very open and engaging presentation about his company, Half Minute Media - quite impressive given that it was his first go at public speaking.

Half Minute Media have some digital fingerprinting technology that they use to recognise ad-break "bumpers" - those programme idents, or sponsor messages that come before and after every break for adverts. They use the technology in an entry-level PC to identify when the adverts have started, and then switch to a different channel for the duration of the ad-break. This lets them provide a service for pubs, bars, gyms and health clubs that shows more targetted advertising or details of upcoming promotions or events at the venue. Revenue comes from the sale of advertising, although the venue showing the adverts gets 30% and the opportunity to use up to 4 advertising slots for their own adverts.

Richard also covered some of the lessons they've learnt in starting the company. Funding and cashflow are vital - the DTI loan guarantee is expensive (although they couldn't have coped without it), and lack of funding has hampered their growth somewhat. Patents are expensive, and it's too early to say whether they've been useful or not. They have taken the very clever step of patenting some of the methods of attacking their main patents, to help prevent any competition. Don't start a family at the same time as starting a business - at present there are four employees of the company, and two of them are on maternity leave! And finally, get rid of time-wasters as quickly as possible.

Posted by Adrian at June 11, 2006 12:14 PM | TrackBack

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Sorry I missed that one - Did anyone ask about the legality of mashing up TV reception like they do?

Posted by: Geoff at June 14, 2006 01:01 AM

Yeah, there was quite a bit of discussion about the legality of it all. There isn't any defined precedent yet - the nearest cases they've found are some service in Germany that replaced adverts and sex scenes with a blue screen, which was ruled to be legal; and there's a similar service that can replace the adverts on hoardings at football stadia with different ads in the TV footage of the game, but that's operated by the TV companies (and used a lot in France to replace tobacco ads) so hasn't really been challenged.

One thing Half Minute Media have been careful to do with their system is to have a physical switch to a different channel, rather than splicing their adverts into the TV stream. So they aren't altering Sky's (for example) content but just turning over to a different channel.

Posted by: Adrian at June 14, 2006 10:47 AM
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