updated 01:55 pm EST, Fri December 21, 2007
MS No-Skip Video Ad Patent
Microsoft is attempting to secure a patent for technology that would prevent users from skipping ads in downloaded videos, according to a new filing with the US Patent Office. The technique would insert a digital rights management (DRM) token inside the file that would prevent users from playing the intended video until relevant ads are viewed. It would also allow a content producer to insert ads into a downloaded video at its own discretion.
Implementing this patent would potentially create an ideal mix between offline and online video formats, according to Microsoft. While it would offer the higher visual quality usually found in downloaded copies of videos and allow users to move the files to portable media players, the feature would also enable free, ad-based downloads instead of requiring online streams to ensure that ads remain current. Services such as Joost and Hulu currently demand a constant Internet connection and rotate ads from new advertisers in the middle of and between clips.
Originally submitted in June of last year, the patent has yet to be used in a finished service but could be used in a future Windows Media- or Zune-based video service that would allow ad-subsidized downloads; if granted, the patent may affect attempts by competing companies to integrate ads into their own downloadable content and force them to revert to ad-free but paid downloads.