Targeting advertisements based on your tv viewing habits

Interesting article in today’s WSJ.  The first full paragraph states,

Data-gathering firms and technology companies are aggressively matching people’s TV-viewing behavior with other personal data-in some case, prescription drug records obtained from insurers-and using it to help advertisers buy ads targeted to shows watched by certain kinds of people.

Apparently targeted advertising has been really successful via the internet and ad companies hope to target tv audiences. 

There’s already been a successful campaign to target different commercials to different audiences watching the same television program in “real-time.”

In an early test of Cablevision’s technology, the U.S. Army used it to target four different categories of viewers.

One group, dubbed “family influencers” by Cablevision, saw an ad featuring a daughter discussing with her parents her decision to enlist.  Another group, “youth ethnic I,'” saw an ad featuring African-American men testing and repairing machinery.  A third, “youth ethnic II,” saw soldiers of various ethnicities doing team activities.  An Army spokesman declined to comment.

Funny, no description of the fourth targeted ad.  I wonder why!

To target tv ads to specific audiences, the household needs a “set-top box”, meaning cable, satellite dish or TiVo. 

Companies involved in TV targeting say the household-level matching is done by outside companies that provide only aggregated data, stripped of personally identifiable details such as names.  Many say TV targeting is less intrusive than online tracking, because TV technologies don’t target individuals, but instead use the data to draw inferences about aggregated groups of set-top boxes or households.

Well, the companies involved in TV targeting won’t be able to target me because I don’t have cable or satellite tv or TiVo.  Even if I did, I tend to “defy” stereotypes so not sure how effective those targeted ads would be.  In fact, I find it a little “offensive” that a certain ad would be transmitted to me because advertisers think they know me based on some “so-called” aggregate grouping. 

I can see this “targeted advertising” being abused and misused.  And, what’s funny, if the government (“big brother) was behind this “targeted advertising”, certain individuals and groups in this country would be in an uproar.  However since it is private industry (“big sister”), it’s okay.

Another benefit to no cable or satellite tv – avoiding those targeted ads!


1 Comment

  1. Kirsten said,

    March 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    …and little by little our privacy and rights in this country continue to erode–but we are scarcely aware of it because it is done so quietly and subtley that we don’t know or maybe are so used to it that we don’t care. Scary!

    You are lucky to live in a big metro area with television stations close enough that you can pick them up over the air. There are no stations within and hour and a half drive from where I live, so if you don’t get cable, you don’t get television at all. (Another expense I hadn’t planned for when I moved here.)

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