Hidden text on a television

I was thinking of taking a few days and doing some photo blogging of various pictures I’ve collected in the last few months. For example, lots of people know what hidden text is on the web. What would hidden text look like on a television? I think it would look something like this:

Tiny text

That’s some tiny text. Can you even read what it says at the bottom of the TV screen?

50 Responses to Hidden text on a television (Leave a comment)

  1. LOL:

    How about same color text to background? :-D

  2. It’s just a legal text that company include in all their ads. The same occurs in cars, banks, assurances, etc. It’s not for your information, it’s just a legal need.

    Excuse me for my bad english. Saludos desde Valencia, Spain.

  3. Yes Matt, Hidden text!

    Lets find out that television name and bann from our SE! :-))))

  4. swordofomens

    AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Virgin Mobile
    subscription service. $3.99/mo for 1 ringtone & 1 wallpaper. Text STOP to 33633 to cancel.
    Charges will be billed on the customer’s wireless phone bill or deducted from their
    prepaid balance. Standard message rates apply. (can’t read URL) for more

  5. Fox blacklisted by Google :)

  6. I think it’s one of those safety signs – “If you can read this tiny text, you must have a seriously high-definition TV. Now, as a reward for such a purchase, the answer to life itself is… ######”

  7. Alan

    I knew it! the answer to life is hash, see i didnt waste my youth smoking the stuff!

  8. And how did the guys from TV ever would think anyone could read this?

  9. Miguel de TallerSEO: is it just me or is there anybody else who thinks that such “legal text” is not just a must. Although this is a bad example, but in many cases the most important stuff is there with tiny characters. For example here in Hungary, many of the banks “hide” some of their conditions such way on billboards and in TV.

  10. Maybe they are affiliated with Specsavers…

  11. Visible but still hidden ;-)

  12. Sounds like you don’t just need HD, but Ultra Mega HD Extreme (TM), Glasses and something better to do than watch TV. Oh yeah, and about that TV thing… Why has YouTube not killed TV yet… just like video killed the radio star?

  13. At one time, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) specified the font size and type for these boiler-plates. The letters were required to be some many scan lines high and so many pixels wide.

    Problem is now with digital compression, that boilerplate text is seen as noise and optimized instead of recorded as high value content.

  14. Hi Matt,

    Nice catch there :)

    I see such hidden text in ads that show some great offers, but there is always some catch. For example: Tax is not included :)

    Later when you find out about the catch, you then seems to notice the hidden text in the ads.

    Regards

  15. Ermm, don’t exactly agree with Miguel de TallerSEO;
    “It’s just a legal text that company include in all their ads. The same occurs in cars, banks, assurances, etc. It’s not for your information, it’s just a legal need.” Agreed it is legal text, but I don’t agree it is “not FYI”. Yikes, the most important bit of an advert is ALWAYS in this text, because it’s the bit they fear most for you to see.

    For example, some US states requires some form of legal text stating “finding a lawyer should not be based solely on an advert” and voila, that’s what you find at the bottom. OK, you’d have to be slightly retarded to need that info, but hell, there are people who really do need that info! However, these are probably the same people that will not even try and read it anyway.

    More importantly I do believe, are adverts for loans (APR hidden in this manner) – but at least somewhere down the line you are going to have to sign a hard copy of something somewhere, thus know the APR. But then there are things like ‘Text in now for free whatever’ – sometimes the only way to know how much it will truly cost is if you have the supernatural ability to read small text, or at worst, small high speed scrolling text.

    What a legal joke, what a total con!

  16. Technically is not hidden, you can see it. Its just unable to be read :-)

  17. addictist

    TYGA Coconut Juice… My favorite

  18. Is it some kind of captcha you’re doing Matt ? ;-)

  19. that this is supposed to be the legal information, but is almost impossible to read that text, that text is visible from the legal point of view but is imposible to read it, is like to use a font size of 3px or something.

  20. Worst are usually credit card or financial radio advertisements, were the announcer quickly runs over the extortionate 30% + APR!

    Interesting to see difference in rules online vs. offline – clearly the financial instititues have to be clean and clear, doesn’t appear that technology or the mobile sector seem to be as tightly monitored.

  21. Time to upgrade to HD and a 60″ screen.

  22. That is a hardware/resolution compatibility issue Matt. You’re required to have a 65″ HD Plasma with DVR in order to read that font. Do you have cookies disabled on your TV?

  23. Brent

    I recently paused some such text on my DVR, because of encoding issues it wasn’t readable. I re ran it several times, 6 or more, to make out what it said.

    I am under the believe if a person cannot reasonably read the text in the amount of time it is shown it shouldn’t be considered tenable legal disclaimer.

  24. You’d think there’d be advertiser legislation in place to make that text legible. That text is usually legal disclaimers that are supposed to absolve companies from the responsibility of advertising realistically. Let’s say you drive your own car in the same manner you saw in an ad, and get in an accident – would the advertiser be liable for not clearly communicating that their ad was on a closed course?

    By the way, if you want to see some real hidden text on TV just find a set with a Vsync dial and put the picture out of phase. There’s often a bunch of text and what looks like a binary bitmap flashing at the top and bottom of the picture.

  25. “Visible but still hidden” is a pretty good way to put it. :)

    The fact that it’s a subscription service and you have to actively cancel it is something I didn’t care for.

  26. Martin Cooper

    Hidden text on a television? That’s essentially what Teletext is. The text is transmitted as part of the TV signal, but in the non-visible part of it.

  27. Yeah, I find it quite ridiculous. I mean, you would need more than a high-definition TV to read it, and it is totally intentional. It definitely reminds me a post I did a couple of days ago about a subscription that was nearly impossible to cancel: http://pjkdirect.com/2008/10/18/is-this-considered-stealing/

  28. Dave (original)

    Hmmm, you Americans need TV Ad regulations in *addition* to Bank regulations. Do the banks 1st :)

  29. Most of the ad agency do these kind of things. I think it is a marketing tactics :).

  30. I can read the text fine. But I’ll put it in plain text so that all of you can see it too.

    your-rap-music-hip-hop-music-dance-music-gangsta-rap-guide.com offers music, rap music, hip-hop music, dance music, gangsta rap, contemporary music, download music, iTunes music, cool music, download songs for free, MuchMusic, MTV, MTV music, MP3 music, free MP3 download music, music TV station, music television station, music television station New York, music television station LA, music television station Los Angeles, cable music television station, ghetto booty music. If you are interested in music, rap music, hip-hop music, dance music, gangsta rap, contemporary music, download music, iTunes music, cool music, download songs for free, MuchMusic, MTV, MTV music, MP3 music, free MP3 download music, music TV station, music television station, music television station New York, music television station LA, music television station Los Angeles, cable music television station, ghetto booty music, bookmark your-rap-music-hip-hop-music-dance-music-gangsta-rap-guide.com and we will offer you music, rap music, hip-hop music, dance music, gangsta rap, contemporary music, download music, iTunes music, cool music, download songs for free, MuchMusic, MTV, MTV music, MP3 music, free MP3 download music, music TV station, music television station, music television station New York, music television station LA, music television station Los Angeles, cable music television station, ghetto booty music.

  31. I would better call it a Hidden Micro Text

  32. is it some kinda terms and condition thing?? just displayed for the legal purpose??

  33. Dave (original)

    LOL! Someone has missed the point……………again :)

  34. aaron wall

    I get auto-dialed about a half dozen times a day by spammy offers from machines… to refinance a mortgage I do not have, buy a warranty for my car (usually a suckers buy), vacation offers, or some sort of insurance stuff.

    We are on the do not call list and these things will sometimes hang up and call us back 5 minutes later. And on most of them that still call us there is no way to contact a person on the phone…no intent to close, just to annoy…maybe it is an awareness campaign?

    The problem is that capitalism is so competitive that it forces many market participants to act sleazy and do things like hide text…in a cheating culture the honest guy doesn’t always win…and often fails. Ad systems that are based on maximizing earnings often push some form of “hidden text” … the person who is a thief can afford to pay more for a click than a similar but honest business can.

  35. I think you need a better, bigger TV :p.. so you are to blame! noooo not the TV commercial guys… YOU! .. lol

  36. EGOL

    This is like professors who show a complex photo or graph for fifteen seconds, talk fast about it then yank it away – never to be seen again. Then on the exam 50% of your grade rides on that graph.

  37. CJ

    Have you seen “Josie and the Pussycats”?

    All about subliminal messages in music, TV, radio…and very funny film too.

  38. Put off your glasses Matt, see the font style and size are Arial, 12px. He he he

  39. Hey, look at that, Mr. Chui has switched over to Television as a form of advertising…

  40. Dave (original)

    Matt, in relation to http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/quick-comment-for-pixelrn/

    IF Google knows the page/site has been hacked, why do you punish the the victim and NOT the perpetrator?

  41. Ghosh!!
    I am from India and it’s a common practice here that advertisers write ‘FREE*’ and when you see at the bottom there you will find something written in very small size which usually goes unnoticed. And it says ‘*Conditions Apply’ which includes hidden costs. So, basically the ‘FREE’ thing is ‘NEVER FREE’. I am amazed that it happens in other countries as well!

  42. I have also seen in TV commercials. It reads the stunt will be performed in the closed road. Never try to imitate this’ . LOL :D

  43. I’m sure if that text wasn’t there someone somewhere would try to take them to court for something ridiculous. It is probably thier from the work of their legal team.

  44. it probably shouldn’t be legal to put your legal disclaimer illegibly. there’s a great pun in that sentence somewhere with a snappy ring to it but i’m too tired to figure it out right now.

  45. Dave (original)

    somewhere would try to take them to court for something ridiculous…

    Yep, that’s the American way :)

  46. “Nathasha Bedingfield”

    The small print is too small and the big print isn’t even correct.

  47. perhaps is the same religious messages that are on the back of In & Out cups

  48. lol..that’s another way of cheating people..

  49. It’s like tv ads on an Internet banner, it’s the same promotional but in a minimal resolution, so can you read that minimal text?

  50. In TV series they just need to use their super-duper-image-enhancement software and any blurry detail on a grainy videotape becomes crystal clear. :D

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