Smart this, smart that – now the FCC has approved “Next Gen TV” which means you can expect to see personalized ads migrating between devices, following you from PC to TV, or from your tablet to your television set. Does this ad fishing for consumers have an end game and what is it going to look like? A South Park episode, most likely.
The Federal Communications Commission is poised to approve a new broadcast standard that will let broadcasters do something cable TV companies already do: harvest data about what you watch so advertisers can customize pitches.
“We’ll know where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing – just like you do now, just like everybody does now, the internet does, or Google, or a Facebook,” David Smith, Sinclair Executive Chairman told investors last week.
We will have perfect data all the time.
The advertising industry’s claim that customers want such behaviorally-targeted ads was laid to rest when a nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports concluded the following:
- 76 percent of consumers place little or no value on so-called “interest-based” ads.
- A whopping 85 percent are unwilling to trade their personal data, even anonymously, in return for being able to view such advertisements.
The more insidious stuff like unannounced (covert) sponsored content (“shilling”) is slowly being dethroned from the position of top dog in slimy advertising practice. Because this mass data collection and the ad infinitum accumulation of knowledge about your weaknesses and buttons that can’t wait to be pushed can have much more serious consequences and entire populations can succumb to manipulation by others that might not just want to sell you a product.
The privacy implications need more study, Representative Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said in a Nov. 8 letter to the FCC’s Pai.
Dingell acknowledged “significant benefits” of the new technology. But, she added, the prospect of targeted advertisements “raises questions about how advertisers and broadcasters will gather the demographic information from consumers” and “what privacy protections will be in place.”
“The FCC has placed Americans who watch TV and online video at grave risk when it comes to their privacy,” Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said. “With the FCC further weakening safeguards designed to promote competition and diversity of ownership, they are turning control of our data to fewer unaccountable corporations.”