Virtual Advertising is the use of digital technology to insert virtual advertising images into a live or pre-recorded television show, often in Sports events. This technique is often used to allow broadcasters to replace real advertising panels (existing on the playfield) with virtual images on the screen when broadcasting the same event in other regions which are not concerned with the local advertising; a Spanish football game will be broadcast in Mexico with Mexican advertising images. The viewer has the impression that the advertising image he/she sees on screen is the one in the reality.
The advertising in the playfields is property of the club, except in some professional sports where the league or federation owns the advertising rights. However, the advertising rights broadcast on the screen are property of the broadcasters or the TV channel. This means that second right holders can benefit from selling this virtual advertising. The number of TV viewers is also higher than the people in the stadium, generating more visibility to the advertised marks and more income to the broadcasters.
Virtual advertisements can be effectively integrated into live television in real-time. For example, Fox Sports Net places a virtual advertisement on the glass behind the goaltender that can only be seen on television. In baseball Major League Baseball places virtual advertisements on a back-board behind the batter which can be targeted differently in local markets or countries. During the World Series MLB International broadcasts the World Series with different advertisements on a per market basis, showing a different ad in the US, Canadian, Latin American and Japanese markets. In Formula One, virtual ads are placed on the grass or as virtual billboards.
The technology that enabled video tracking for virtual advertising has been used for the past decade to create virtual product placements in television shows hours, days, or years after they have been produced. This presents several benefits including the possibility of preserving an advertisement-free master copy of the show in order to generate revenue as product placements are added in the future. Advertisements can be targeted to regional markets and updated over time to ensure maximum efficiency of advertising money.
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