Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Targeting Ads Via Smart TV's Will Alienate Consumers

Let me say that I love technology.  I love gadgets.  I wish I had the money to buy more gadgets and try them out.  I love iPads, and iPods, and TV's and game consoles.  I have a special affinity for the good old fashioned television.  I'm a picture snob.  The idea of a "smart tv" with services such as Hulu and Netflix built in are interesting to me.  I've also come to accept the fact that "free" TV comes at a cost: the advertisement. 

I love the "ad".  It's a great way to reach a targeted audience.  It's an effective marketing and branding tool when used appropriately.  But allowing manufacturers to create their own ad networks and present ads via "smart tv's" is just a really fast way to alienate both the buyers of TV's and the viewers of media content.

At CES on January 9th, Samsung announced that it would enable the delivery of ads to a TV user's "home screen", even in 3-D on so-equipped models.  In November 2011, LG made a similar announcement.  This isn't a new model.  TIVO has delivered ads in it's DVR software, and many MSO's such as Cox and Time Warner display ads or poll-type questions via set top box software as well.

As it stands now, the current model is mostly passive.  A user may see an ad on a part of a screen they are on.  It is not part of the content they are about to consume, and it is not a road block that they must endure before viewing content, like the Hulu model for free users.  However, this could easily turn into a model where a television user, through the TV's operating system software, is forced to view an ad before tuning a live channel or opening an "app".  This absolutely cannot happen.  If after spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on a television, I must be forced to view an ad to do anything on my set, you will immediately alienate me as a customer, and the ad sponsor may also lose brand credibility with me.  The potential consumer backlash could be considerable.

Television is a passive form of entertainment.  It should never be active.  It should never be difficult for a consumer to get to the content they want to consume.  If there are too many road blocks (ads), then they will give up and not view the content.  This could keep eye balls off of sets, and off of normal broadcast and cable content, reducing ratings and potentially lowering the inherent value of  advertisement delivery via television.

This development does nothing but attempt to give TV's manufacturers a slice of the ad revenue pie, and in the process hurt the advertising industry as a whole.


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