You may soon see native and interactive ads while watching your favorite TV show

TV network executives: why wait until commercials to run ads?

Watchwith, a company that leverages programming metadata to help networks create second screen experiences, this week announced that it will make its technology available to networks to deploy in-program ads.

Networks can place interactive promos, including tune-in reminders, e-commerce events, and branded content within shows; networks can also sell this new inventory to advertisers.

This is something that networks have experimented with for years, but generally only during re-runs of shows. With its new technology, Watchwith expects this to become more mainstream.

“For an entire generation that has grown up with YouTube, it has already become mainstream to interact with in-program features to "subscribe" to a channel and see related videos,” Watchwith CEO Zane Vella told Found Remote. “The Watchwith technology now makes it possible for TV networks to add similar interactive features within their own premium video content, and distributed via their own apps, websites, and Smart TVs. Leading TV networks are already adding interactive audience engagement features to their first-run programs, within the Nielsen C3 window, and we fully expect in-program advertising and audience engagement to become the norm for digital video.”

The new technology from Watchwith likely has its customers, which include CBSi, FOX Broadcasting, NBCUniversal and Viacom, salivating at its monetary potential. But how will this impact viewers? Especially when viewers are more and more going out of their way to avoid ads – DVR’ing shows to fast forward through commercials, installing ad blockers on PCs and mobile devices, and paying extra for Hulu’s ad-free option.

“[W]e believe that the native targeting potential of in-program ads - meaning ads that are relevant to both the program context and to a specific viewer profile - can truly be a value-add to the viewer,” Zane said. “For example, when advertisers are able to employ standard web targeting software and not display irrelevant products and services, this is an improvement to the consumer experience. In-program advertising can more easily take advantage of digital targeting because unlike traditional interrupt advertising, there is not an incumbent industry that needs to adapt.”