Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Advertising Television Entertainment

Targeted TV Ads: Silver Bullet Or Privacy Nightmare? 96

ericjones12398 writes "The effectiveness of television, as an advertising medium and as a return on investment (ROI), has been constantly questioned since the arrival of the 'digital marketing age.' Not surprisingly, those who are loudest with this concern are mainly high-tech technology companies that are either strong proponents of online advertising — like Google — and/or device hardware manufacturers — like Apple. These organizations hope to 'improve the user experience' by introducing proprietary technologies — usually their own — that can integrate within the existing television environment."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Targeted TV Ads: Silver Bullet Or Privacy Nightmare?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Good luck with that, my TV is only connected to my Adblocked PC.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:25PM (#40486815)

      It's currently possible to detect this. Right now most media companies don't bother, but if this became more wide spread I can totally see a cat/mouse game of media companies inventing ways of verifying ad delivery, and consumers circumventing them.

      • Even with that, I watch TV using mythbuntu. I record first and watch later. I also skip the adds. No adds in my own time. Marketing companies are not allowed to provide me with their opinions on how my life shlid be like
        • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gmanterry ( 1141623 ) on Friday June 29, 2012 @05:47AM (#40491627) Journal

          Even with that, I watch TV using mythbuntu. I record first and watch later. I also skip the adds. No adds in my own time. Marketing companies are not allowed to provide me with their opinions on how my life shlid be like

          That's the way I feel too. When I was young we had radio. Then we got a TV when I was in school. At first TV had five minutes per hour of commercials. Now it's 40 minutes. I am quite frankly filled to overflowing with TV commercials. The same crap repeated multiple times in the same hour. Sometimes two times in a row. If I couldn't skip those brainless annoying infantile wastes of my time I would quit watching TV completely. I seriously mean that. I am, at my age, commercialed out. I get really annoyed when someone calls my "Do not call listed" phone. If I want something, I'll buy it. I have never had a good experience with buying anything sold to me over the phone, or door to door, with the sole exception of Girl Scout Cookies. Leave me alone! You reach an age where you can no longer tolerate people coming into your home by way of your TV, selling condoms, Viagra, feminine hygiene products and car insurance that is $200.00 cheaper than any other insurance company. I'm filled to overflowing with their sales crap and I don't have room for one more 8th grade level commercial selling some medication that they don't even bother to tell me what it's for but I should ask my Doctor if it's right for me. Screw them all. I'll watch movies or TV series on DVD. That said, end of rant and... "Get off my lawn."

          • If I want something, I'll buy it.

            Exactly. Good TV costs money. I'm a fan of stuff like the BBC, at least in theory. Let me pay a price, and give me a service for that. Instead of doing this middlemen-whore-bullshit. Advertising doesn't enable anything. It pays for journalism that isn't worth the name, and entertainment that rots brains and would actually be considered torture for people who realize that. Bill Hicks was exactly right, and suggesting people in advertising should kill themselves is being frien

            • Holy fuck, I just wrote Martin Luther instead of Martin Luther King. I'm aware that the latter is still silly and full of shit, but Martin Luther?!? I'M SORRY. I didn't mean the Jew hater, I meant the nice one :/

              • I'm aware that the latter [ writing Martin Luther King, that is; comparing my petty rant with MLK's fight for equality and against oppression] is still silly and full of shit

                seems I'm just making it worse with every post :( I'll stop now.

    • by Das Auge ( 597142 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:45PM (#40487109)
      You can't -- yet -- adblock television, but Neflix works for now.

      December, two years ago, I ditched broadcast TV in favor of Netflix and what I could find online (mostly Hulu). A couple of months later, I caught my young children watching this cool new show they just found on Netflix: Voltron. It brought back memories, so I say down and watched it with them. At one point, the screen darkened. It's the spot where a commercial could've gone, but the video just faded back in and picked up where there story left off. It hit me, there aren't any ads in Netflix shows.

      Over the next several months I realized that my children asked less often for toys and other consumer items. Now, a year and a half after switching Netflix, my children only ask for stuff less than a quarter of what they used to do. And what they do ask for are stuff like video games, slingshots, and skateboards.

      I realized that cutting them off from the constant bombardment of "Buy! Buy! Buy!" of commercials -- that use psychological tricks -- has short circuited their indoctrination into the cult of consumerism.

      Taking commercials out of their lives in one of the best things I've ever done for them (in additional to attentive parenting). I recommend you other parents do the same.
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        What's going to happen when Netflix starts showing ads? Slowly at first, but over the years, just as much as any commercial network today.

        Oh... duh. Of course... people will just go back to pirating content like they always did.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:05PM (#40488027)

        It would be pretty interesting if this could ever be used to slam unstoppable force (anti-piracy movement) and unmovable object (protect the children movement) against one another.

        It would be like watching two evil empires duke it out. Except that it wouldn't be "like", but exactly like that.

      • by Liam Pomfret ( 1737150 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:14PM (#40488105)
        I would wonder if removing commercials from their lives might actually be a negative in the long run. It saves you money now, but they're not receiving any inoculation against advertising tricks and so might become more vulnerable to them later in life. Rather than just turning on the taps of advertising again though, you might consider watching a show together with them that talks about ads in a way that'll give them that inoculation, and which they'll find entertaining. The "Gruen Transfer" series by Australia's ABC is awesome, if you can track it down at all, and the "Gruen Nation" spin-off series they did about election advertising should be a must watch for any voter.
        • by Hyperhaplo ( 575219 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:17PM (#40489315)

          A friend of mine grew up in some NZ town out back in the middle of nowhere. Spent half his day in "class" (home school) and the other half fishing, wandering the country side and a host of other activities young boys would love to spend their life doing when stuck in the middle of nowhere.

          His opinion of TV advertising is that because he was not exposed to it when he was young he is offended by it now and automatically filters out the crap. He sees the ads, but they have no meaning for him, and his brain has switched his eyes off and his brain on.. more than likely to have a good think about his current website work (this is a decade ago).

          Having seen various kids of my relatives and friends I think that the less expose the better. Another of my friend has educated his kids to mute the ads :-) No mute = no show. Amazing the difference it makes once they learn the hard way that the TV will be turned off and stay off for one hour after if any ad is allowed to have sound.

          Meanwhile, I am more concerned that ads in Australia are blasted at the loudest volume.. which is really disturbing at night. I am waiting for a TV system for which I can set the TV at say 65db and no sound from the TV will exceed that.

          Still waiting for these wonderful services you get in America to arrive in Australia..

        • That is a possiblity, but I'm working with understanding that the personality of the adult is formed, and cemeted, in the youth. If they're not indoctrinated in their youth, they may not be compelled to buy, buy, buy as adults. Once it's cemented, it's incredibly difficult to change.

          Besides, as I also mentioned, I'm not a neglectful parent. I explain a great many things to them. Including the tricks of advertising (know thy enemy). I also teach by example. I don't buy all the latest, greatest things. Teac
        • You are not immunized against by watching a lot of it. In fact I would contend that the chance is that some of it work on you because you watch it rather than reject it outright. Anyway, I haven't seen ads for a long long time, but when I see one accidentaly, I simply apply the plain old rule "it is an ad: all of it is a lie to make you buy a product you did not need in the first place".
          • You haven't seen ads for a long time? I'd honestly be greatly surprised by that. Sure, you might avoid TV ads easily enough, but what about billboards and posters? The only way to not see ads ever is to never leave your house.
        • by dkf ( 304284 )

          I would wonder if removing commercials from their lives might actually be a negative in the long run.


          You must deny the power of the advertiser and the marketer over your mind (and that of your children as well) because they will not willingly ever cede it of their own free will. Their true goal is power over you, in particular the power to make you choose as they decide. How to spend, how to vote, how to live. That's what they wish to wrest from your free will. (Though I hate to use the term, only sheeple watch commercials.)

          • Many marketers may look at consumers as sheep, but there's also a great many who look at consumers as being cognitive actors with free will. From their perspective, advertising is about persuading you to make that purchase, and giving you the information you'd need to make that purchase decision. In my experience, people who deny that advertising has any effect over them tend to be those who have been influenced most greatly by advertising at a sub-conscious level. I feel a far more effective strategy is a
      • by reg ( 5428 )

        Found the same thing with my kids, although they've never really had much broadcast TV exposure. They just get irritated by this stuff interrupting what they were watching... Thankfully they'll live in a streaming world, because they find it difficult to understand that they can't chose the show, but have to watch whatever is on.

        However, don't be scared to teach your kids the truth about ads. There are two kinds of ads: Those that try to sell you something you don't need, and those that are offering yo

      • Really? Commercials didn't seem to have any effect on me whatsoever as a child. I wouldn't care about anything the commercials were saying. I'm not really surprised that they could have a different effect on others, though.

      • by fa2k ( 881632 )

        I may be crazy (quite likely), but I prefer an anonymous broadcast over DVB filled with un-targetted ads to someone knowing exactly what I watched and when I watched it, but not showing any ads. I'll probably change my mind, or be forced to use streaming as the only option....

  • I only buy (Score:4, Funny)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:02PM (#40486569) Homepage Journal

    Highly sugared, caffeinated, low fibre, deep-fried breakfast cereals I see endorsed by /. posters.

  • by charnov ( 183495 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:03PM (#40486579) Homepage Journal

    I turned off the cable years ago... anything good on besides Mad Men and Game of Thrones?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      anything good on besides Mad Men and Game of Thrones?

      Walking Dead isn't bad, if that's the sort of thing that suits your tastes.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Not much. Mythbusters is fun, but they are on Netflix. Louie on FX might be the funniest TV show of all time, but it's also on Netflix. I've heard that Breaking Bad is pretty good, too, and it's also on Netflix.

      The only things I miss are The Soup, random old movies on TCM and AMC, and watching Phineas and Ferb with my son (best kid's cartoon on TV by far.) Not worth $40/month.

      As far as I know that's about it. As little as we watch TV, broadcast + Netflix is plenty. I'd pay a little more if I could j

      • by pesho ( 843750 )
        Phineas and Ferb are on Netflix.
      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        One thing I do miss about TV (haven't had a cable subscription in a while) was ironically what most of us see as it's weakness... the fact that it's a stream of content you don't control.

        Watching "whatever is on" seems like an inferior activity compared to the pick and choose that's now possible.. but I kinda miss being able to flip to the discovery channel or comedy channel and just watch whatever was there.

        Of course most of the channels I would do this with in the past have gone to shit. TLC went reality

        • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )
          I will admit I have sometimes spent 20 or more minutes flipping through Netflix trying to find something I'm in the mood to watch, or just trying to remember what it is I might be interested in seeing, occasionally to the point of stalling out and never picking anything at all. I never had much trouble looking over a list of 20 movie channels and identifying the one movie playing I was most interested in (or, very rarely, realizing none of them were interesting) but for some reason when *everything* is on I
      • i stopped watching IFC when they started putting ads in the movies. i'll watch their series sometimes, but never the movies.
    • I get over 40 channels through my antenna (since the digital switchover divided stations into subchannels) and mostly watch them. Most of my favorite shows are reruns since older shows, like older movies, seem to be better than what we have now:

      - Network: House, Fringe, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries (sometimes), movies (on weekends)
      - Retrochannel: Twilight Zone, Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet, Car54, Three's Company, Star Trek TNG, Davinci's Inquest, etc
      - RT News
      - PBSworld
      - Moviechannel: Mostly black-and-whit

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I turned off the cable years ago... anything good on besides Mad Men and Game of Thrones?

      If you're gonna mention all these cool shows, at least link to 'em on YouTube, will ya? Anyways, besides Mad Men [] and Game of Thrones [], naw, there's not much worth watching until season 3 comes out. Until then, I just use the TV as a device on which I play Portal 2 [].

      The ironic thing is that most of the people who watch That Show have never seen it on TV, because the channel on which it airs isn't widely carried, even

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )

      Yeah, same here. There are great TV shows on over the last few years (The Shield, The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc) -- but not enough to spend $100-$200/mo on. I haven't watched live (not even over-the-air) television in about a decade and the only commercials I'm ever confronted with are the live-reads on some of the podcasts/streams that I consume -- which I'm completely okay with.

      So, basically, they can do whatever the hell they want. Talking about advertising on television is like quai

    • Just those, Breaking Bad and Walking Dead. You'll notice three of the four are on AMC and the fourth is behind the paywall of HBO. There's an argument for a la carte, if I ever saw one.

      I used to enjoy some of the silly sci-fi shows (the stargates, Eureka, etc), but those are all dead and gone now. They've been replaced with ghost hunting, homoerotic wrestling drama and the same pointless UFO shows they've been rehashing for twenty years.

    • by mrmeval ( 662166 ) <<mrmeval> <at> <>> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:00PM (#40488617) Journal

      I can't even watch the shows I'm interested in due to the shit slide ups taking up half the screen in the middle of a critical moment. On screen fuck smudge animations that take up two fifths of the screen and block all of the action kill the show. Both of these lasted for 3 minutes and as annoying as possible. On a different shit slide up they lowered the shows audio once to blare out at distorted volume an ad. Couple this with the cable company injecting their vomitous banner at the bottom and inserting their own ads between the ads already inserted and I just quit.

      Movies are no alternative I can't even go see a movie without being bombarded by ads and now those are, by contract, timed to never quite be the same amount of time consistently so you can't wait and avoid them. Then there's the propaganda, such as was in the 2nd ghost rider where N cage gives verbal fellatio to the MPAA

      Should I care to watch some show I'll wait for the DVD but I'll first make sure the contemptible fucks didn't stick an ad in the middle of it as I just had happen on a DVD that did not indicate it was a repackage, looked authentic and was available in a reputable store.

      I finally got to the point local and network television became a time wasting sickening thing in the late 90s from the propaganda and ads that I just turned it off.

      I'll stick with live theater, indie music, books, web comics and the like.

    • Breaking Bad. Looking forward to Season 5.
  • Targeted? (Score:4, Funny)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:05PM (#40486603)

    So, I'll start seeing porn commercials?

  • Silver Bullet for a Privacy Nightmare?

    I would watch one or two targeted ads for 1 hour of TV. Otherwise, I have less boring things to do with my time.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:28PM (#40486863)
    Me: *cracks open a Yuengling beer"
    TV: *watches me and scans the room through video camera*
    TV: Wouldn't you rather have a Coors Light? If you don't like the taste of beer, Coors has less taste as it is designed to be closer to water.
    Me: *Sips some Yuengling*
    Me: No thanks TV, I like my beer's taste.
    TV: One way or another you're going to taste the silver bullet.
    Me: "You'll have to pry my Yuengling out of my cold dead hands."
    TV: Okay... *fires a gun at me, wounding me*
    Me: "How could TV betray me! These spy cameras were supposed to be innocent and the people who were supposed to be spied on is the enemy."
    TV: You betrayed your country by not buying the things in the ads. How will the patriotic television exist if you don't buy what is in the ads? It was either me or you kid.
    TV: *fires a few more bullets*
    Me: *aaaaarrgh*
    TV: "Recording deleted for security concerns"
  • No.
    This sounds as dumb as Hulu's interactive ads... which I ignore. I have no interest in interacting with some ad disguised as a really lame game.

  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:34PM (#40486953)

    Best thing that would improve TV would be a la carte. I would be willing to pay a base fee of $10 for local channels plus 1-2 dollars extra for Syfy, TCM, and..... well that's about it. BUT this would require action by the FCC to force NBC, ABC/Disney, and others to "unbundle" their channels rather than sell them as 6-7 channel groups. They won't do it voluntarily.

    Sirius XM radio does a la carte (pay 8 dollars to choose any of 40 channels). No reason digital cable can't do it too.

    • I came to post almost exactly this. A la carte channel selection would make targeted advertising easy, and likely more acceptable to most. I don't want a DVR box relaying back each show I watch for profiling. I would be fine if I received commercials profiled based on the channels I have selected for a given month.

      Its the difference between advertising based on the style of one's house exterior and what can be seen in the yard from the street versus walking inside uninvited and taking a look around the p

    • I dunno. Conceptually, I like this. After all, why should I pay for a "tier" when I'm only interested in one or two channels?

      That said...

      One reason I don't like this is that I tend to surf channels. I'll get home from work and flip through the few hundred channels I have for something that catches my eye while I eat dinner. This week, I watched a program about old cars, a program about the formation of the Earth, and Futurama. Now I probably wouldn't consider paying a monthly fee for just Velocity and

      • what about theme packs?

        so at the very lest if you don't like sports you can dump all the sports channels but still have the all the non sports ones or you can just have the sports channels.

        $10-$15 line fee + locals (clean QAM) + all the free shopping and PSA channels.

        ESPN pack
        ESPN 2
        ESPN 3
        ESPN U
        ESPN C
        ESPN news

        Sport pack 1
        In market RSN's + bigten (in market) + pac12 (in market)

        Sport pack 2
        NFL network and NFL network red zone (free with NFL ST), NBA TV (free with NBA LP),NHL network (free with NFL CI), MLB

      • by grumling ( 94709 )

        Also, to get the best price on popular/expensive channels, cable companies often take a bunch of crap channels that they know no one watches. Fox Business is the most pure example, but there are plenty of others.

      • >>>I'll get home from work and flip through the few hundred channels

        Nothing's stopping you from continuing this service. Just as nothing's stopping you from paying $30/month to Sirius XM for their hundreds of channels. A la carte is merely an additional option for people, like me, who want to save some cash.

        >>>what if TCM went away

        Not really a concern. TCM is one of the most popular channels. And no channels disappeared off Sirius XM after they introduced the $8 ala carte option, so I

        • TCM is one of the most popular channels.

          Ah, but is it popular because of the bundling? After all, I get TCM "for free" with my movie bundle (5 "Encore" channels, TCM, AMC, FX Movie Channel, IFC, Sundance, Flix, and I think one or two more). Would I pay an extra $2 a month for it? Probably not.

          And what happens when A La Carte is an extra $2 but I can get all 12 of those for $10. Will you then complain that it's unfair that you pay $2 and I only pay $0.83 for the same channel?

          • No because if I wanted the 12-movie channel bundle I could get it. (Of course I wouldn't... I'd just buy TCM for $2 and save some cash.)

    • Trouble is, providers would start spreading their content over more and more stations. And or make more and more substaions to make you want to buy more.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @06:45PM (#40487113)

    Of course, it never worked on me. Not even when I was buying a can of delicious Coke Zero, now in Vanilla and Cherry.


  • There... FTFY... (no good outcome for watchers)
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:21PM (#40487543) Journal
    Targeted TV Ads: Silver Bullet Or Privacy Nightmare?

    I fall into the category of commercial-hating casual viewer (I don't even have a pay-TV subscription, though I do have a NetFlix subscription) who will do just about anything, legal or not, to avoid commercials.

    I also take every step practical to preserve my privacy from the likes of Google and Apple and pretty much any legal-fictional entity described as "incorporated".

    So far, Google's - The best of the best - attempts to "target" me via GMail sidebar ads has consisted of a laughable extraction of less-common keywords from my email... And they quite likely have more information about me than any other organization on this planet - Including the US government.

    That said, I have found exactly one form of advertising that works on me... If you want to sell me something I already - key point there - want, massively below the normal - normal, not inflated-and-marked-down - price, I'll buy from you instead of through my regular channels (I also have no brand loyalty, so don't bother appealing to me with any sort of "loyalty" "rewards"). But trying to sell me something I don't already want makes me more likely to never buy from you than if I'd never heard of you.
    • Broadly agreeing with this, I would comment that there are two types of ads.

      One type is that which tries to sell you something you would not have bought as you did not know you wanted it, like getting you to switch brands of beer, buy an iPod, or insure your lawn-mower. This is the prime-time TV stuff. I find these adverts actually put me off the stuff they are trying to promote, often because I resent being associated with the idiots they depict 'enjoying' their stuff. For example one recent (UK) ad
    • If you want to see all the information that Google has about you, just go to your Google account dashboard and look for yourself.

      Google is interested in your favorite color and hobbies and stuff like that. They don't give a shit about your personal secrets.

      • If you want to see all the information that Google has about you, just go to your Google account dashboard and look for yourself.

        Google is interested in your favorite color and hobbies and stuff like that. They don't give a shit about your personal secrets.

        My favorite color is my personal secret, you insensitive clod!

  • Maybe I'm atypical, but I've never been interested in the ads on TV, in the newspaper, or online. Throw a trade publication at me though, and the advertising is more interesting because of the products and substance. So my suggestion is that TV advertising is ineffective because it is poorly designed, and that targetting poorly designed advertising isn't going to do much.

    Another thing that I've noticed is that a lot of targetted advertising is trying to sell me stuff that I already have. That may be good

  • about 2020 or so when they have public video billboards lining the downtown sidewalks triggering off your embedded RFID chip. Everywhere you go, nothing but ads for LOGO network, Brokeback Mountain DVDs, "Wicked", and Carmen Miranda banana hats on sale.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:17PM (#40489709) Homepage Journal
    If they're something I'm interested in, or remarkably clever. I'm not ever likely to buy insurance from Geiko, but I find their "Possum" commercial hysterical. I might rewind and watch a video game commercial. Once. I probably won't watch that same video game commercial again though. Car commercial? Maybe, but they don't actually advertise the cars I'm interested in. Most of the stuff that I do actually buy, I hear about through word-of-mouth. I've clicked through to Thinkgeek a couple of times from Slashdot. I would probably buy a "laser" if they advertised one of sufficient power (That I could set people on fire with, since doing it with my mind doesn't seem to be working too well.) I don't think I'm really anyone's "target demographic" though. I think I would respond best to adverts for cerebral indie flicks and furry porn. So far, no one seems to be serving those up. Google, get to it!
  • Just stop watching TV, and do other things instead, like organising a war against CEO's and the 1%.

  • So now a part of our cable bill is for spying on us as well?? I pay for cable i will not pay to be spied upon.
  • The problem with targeted advertising to me is that the media companies are going to be so lousy at hitting the mark. After all to offer me a commercial I might like someone would first have to be advertising it. Here's an example. I am a voracious reader of Science Fiction books, spend at least $100 a month of discretionary spending on them so does any author or publishing house have ads for them? None I've ever seen. I'm crazy for Model trains, seen an ad for Atlas or Bachman, Tyco or Lionel anywhere rece

  • I would go with the latter ....
  • Okay hows about this all the producers create a BT service and

    1 you fill out a survey to indicate your interests (im a single hetro geek that has no DL and does not travel so there is a huge whack of ads I DO NOT WANT TO SEE)
    2 they then give you a feed with a small number of ad files (say a 8 to 1 ratio of show to ads)
    3 you then "pay" for the service either by buying "download credits" or by serving upload data (your BT ratio)

    note i am saying DOWNLOAD in an unDRMd format and it is up to you to actually watc

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.