Peter Kafka

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Mirriad, the Company That Wants to Automate Product Placement, Gets Some High-Profile Help

You don’t want to watch ads. But if the ad is inserted directly into the thing you want to watch, you’ll put up with it. You might even like it.

That’s the premise behind product placement, which is a very old idea. Now Mirriad is trying to update the concept, by digitizing it, and creating a marketplace that lets advertisers and content owners make deals on the fly.

That means that in theory, if Coke wanted to insert some cans into reruns of “NCIS,” it could cut a deal with CBS, using a Web dashboard, and you’d never know that Mark Harmon was guzzling something else the first time around.

Mirriad isn’t the first company to layer digital images onto video — if you’ve watched sports on TV over the last decade, you’ve seen it all the time, from the first-down markers on NFL games to the rotating billboards behind home plate in baseball games. But the London-based company wants to make this a really big, automated ad business.

So far they’ve raised more than $7 million over the last few years. Now they’re trying to increase their visibility in the media world. This might help: They’ve brought on Roger Faxon, a man who used to run of the world’s biggest music labels, as chairman and an investor.

Faxon ran EMI Music Group for five years before Universal Music swallowed it up last year. Lots of people have expected Faxon to take on another big music job, but for now he is keeping his options open. At Mirriad, he’ll work with founder and CEO Mark Popkiewicz, but his formal title is “non-executive chairman,” so I get the sense that one of his chief jobs will be as ambassador/door-opener.

Here’s a promo clip that gives you a pretty good idea of what Mirriad is pitching:

Mirriad Reel 90Sec from mirriad on Vimeo.

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