Picture this: You’re hungover, stumbling out of bed to get your post-bender coffee while facepaint, hair dye and last night’s drinks cling to your shirt like that weird girl in the too-small nurse costume did last night. What greets your half-closed eyes as you seek sobering solace in “Law & Order” reruns? Overly enthusiastic failed actors with tacked-on smiles trying to sell you everything from male enhancement pills to Bratz dolls. It’s enough to make you chuck your mug of liquid redemption through the screen.

Commercials are, by and large, annoying and irrelevant. Depending on what you watch and when you watch it, you could see everything from a commercial for unicorn slippers to a 1-900 number sex line, sometimes back-to-back. Congress graciously turned commercials down to save us from doing it ourselves, but the content — the sometimes bleak, sometimes cheery, sometimes so-sweet-you-want-to-puke content — hasn’t changed. Yet.

You’re watching “Despicable Me” on ABC Family. Just as (SPOILER ALERT) Gru is about to steal the moon, it cuts to commercial. A grainy shot of an unhappy-looking woman carrying buckets of water fills the screen. FarmersOnly.com, it says. You’ll never farm alone again, it says, begging the question: Who the fuck does FarmersOnly.com think watches ABC Family?

Thankfully, tech giants have found a better way to direct advertising. Not unlike tracking your cookies on your computer or looking at your browsing history, Verizon, Comcast and Google have patented a few new gadgets to better sell things people don’t need to people who didn’t think they wanted them.

Most recently, Verizon patented a DVR that essentially spies on the customer. It can watch and listen to everything going on in the room it’s put into, ostensibly to better direct advertising. Bordering on some seriously Big Brother-style invasiveness, this, along with Comcast’s viewing choice-recognizing camera and Google’s room-watching Google TV, means that if you don’t feel like having Joe Jonas serenade you every time “Archer” cuts to commercial, it would probably be in your best interest to take down that poster hanging above your bed.

It’s not to say that commercials aren’t necessary for TV stations or for online media channels like YouTube and Hulu. Some online options are allowing viewers to watch a longer commercial prior to an episode as opposed to watching several small ones in traditional television broadcasting style. As interactivity between the consumer and the advertiser increases, it seems that (at least online) the advertisement watcher is slowly gaining more control over when and what he or she gets to see.

The age of improved directed advertising is coming rapidly. In many ways, it already exists online. As our televisions become more and more similar to computers, who’s to say that in a few years your hangover coffee with a double shot of shame won’t be accompanied by Advil and Plan B advertisements?

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