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Targeted Advertising Coming To Cable TV 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the target-my-fast-forward-button dept.
The New York Times reports that Cablevision Systems is testing a new project in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and some areas of New Jersey to bring targeted advertising to television audiences. "The technology requires no hardware or installation in a subscriber's home, so viewers may not realize they are seeing ads different from a neighbor's. But during the same show, a 50-something male may see an ad for, say, high-end speakers from Best Buy, while his neighbors with children may see one for a Best Buy video game." The test deployment includes 500,000 households, and separates viewers by demographic data from Experian. "Experian has data on individuals that it collects through public records, registries and other sources. It matches the name and address of the subscriber to what it knows about them, and assigns demographic characteristics to households. (The match is a blind one: advertisers do not know what name and address they are advertising to, Cablevision executives said.)"
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Targeted Advertising Coming To Cable TV

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  • OK fine. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnick (1211984) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @11:48AM (#27104831) Homepage

    A little weird, but I'm not really alarmed that this is being used. It (for better or worse) is public data - Taking advantage of it to bore me as little as possible with ads seems perfectly appropriate. Frankly, if I have to watch ads, I'd rather see ads for computer equipment and stuff than for My Little Pony Playhouse...

    • Re:OK fine. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kabuthunk (972557) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <knuhtubak>> on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:03PM (#27104949) Homepage

      Although this also goes in the opposite direction for some. It mentions that houses with children may see ads targetted towards games and the like.

      So if you have a baby, are you going to be stripped of watching the "funny" advertisements... usually for more adult things like beer, and whatnot... and be forced to sit through baby-food and diaper commercials? I know they're far and few between, but some commercials are actually fun to watch. Why should being in a specific demographic strip you of that fun?

      • Re:OK fine. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:41PM (#27105231)

        Something just occurred to me. You know there's going to be cases where a couple's baby dies, and the cable company's records don't get updated for a while...

        • If the data doesn't get updated, somebody is missing an opportunity. Capitalism causing the problem, let the same rabid approach to competition solve it...

          "Need a funeral? Call Graves'R'Us for all your dead child disposal needs! Catering included, low low prices."
        • by von_rick (944421)

          Once the records update after the survey, the couple would be watching ads for assault rifles for the next few months.

          "Did the TV show you ads for baby products after your baby just died? Would you like to blast the crap out of it? Why not try our .xx caliber automatic which fires 200 rounds per second...."

      • You heard how much those things cry?

        You'll still need the beer.
        • Maybe if you would actually know how to keep your baby from having so much psychological pain or having an helicobacter infection, that it cries all day long, you would not have to drink so much beer that it gets even worse.

      • by westlake (615356)
        Why should being in a specific demographic strip you of that fun?

        Because advertisers back the shows that reach their target audience. A few more dollars for a new series like "Battlestar Galactica," a few less for an aging "American Idol."

    • by Brickwall (985910)
      I agree. Right now, in Canada at any rate, there is an alarming number of commercials for dog food, kids' vitamins, and Pepto-Bismol that feature amplified sounds of dogs masticating, which I personally find disgusting. Since I don't have kids or a dog, I would be delighted if some technology could direct ads that I find either informative or amusing my way instead of things that I have no interest in (e.g. feminine hygiene products, pregnancy tests, Sham-Wows).

      Oh, and any commercial featuring Billy Mays.

      • Why do kid's vitamins ads feature amplified dog mastication? I'd like to have been sitting in on that board meeting...

        "Gentlemen, the data is clear. Our boys have been through it twice and it's no mistake: canine mastication sells vitamins. And the louder the better. We're going to take this ad campaign coast-to-coast. Dogs chewing on every television set across the country, high-volume broadcasts on tv, radio and cinemas. Gentlemen of the board, this is truly a new era in the marketing of nutritional

      • things that I have no interest in (e.g. feminine hygiene products

        What, don't you ever have that "Not-so-fresh feeling"?

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I dunno, this is pretty disturbing. If they put targeted ads in cable TV, what's next? Targeted ads in broadcast TV?

    • A My Little Pony Playhouse? The spatial warping technology involved in cramming little ponies into a house and having enough room for anything resembling 'play' is intriguing. Where might I obtain these... 'little ponies'?

    • by donaldm (919619)
      One of the reasons for getting Foxtel (Australia) was to avoid adverts. Now we get almost the same number of adverts that the free to air channels get. I have found that the best way of watching a show is to record it and then skip through the adverts when you watch the program via your recorder. My HDD recorder can do time shift however you still have to delay watching the program you are interested in by 5 to 10 minutes to be sure you can skip the adverts. Of course this doesn't help if the program you wa
  • Married a chick from Eastern Europe, who is .. cough, 19 years younger than myself. Will we get Viagra or Britney Spears Perfume advertising?

    Oh, the suspense!
  • by detnyre (1406055) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @11:52AM (#27104853)
    Cool... No more tampon commercials at my house...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Never any girls in your house, then?

      do you *have* to live up to the stereotype so much?

  • So they'll be directing the ads for lovers of painfully loud music to 50-year-olds, while the gaming ads will go to children despite the average gamer being 35. [theesa.com] May I suggest a few more surveys before they roll out their new tech?

  • by LearnToSpell (694184) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:01PM (#27104917) Homepage
    They might have a tough time finding product placement for this household, since the account's in my grandfather's name, and he died in 2003. Maybe some ads for psychics?
  • Slowly and inexorably, the media companies push us away.

  • by Travoltus (110240) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:03PM (#27104939) Journal

    That we do a DMCA on people's personal information.

    Remove the concept of 'public records' and make it all PRIVATE.

    If Experian wants to collect personal information on you, they should have to pay a fee to you and agree to a standard distribution restriction agreement that makes them come to you for permission to distribute the data elsewhere.

    Now of course credit card companies have to ask and pay you for the right to get that information but they can also charge higher fees, too.

    Violations bring the same penalties as with "pirating" a mp3.

    • by glitch23 (557124)

      If Experian wants to collect personal information on you, they should have to pay a fee to you and agree to a standard distribution restriction agreement that makes them come to you for permission to distribute the data elsewhere.

      They aren't collecting it directly but getting the information from other sources. In this case then you should be charging those other sources for originally collecting the information and maybe a smaller fee for Experian to use it. One of the sources they are getting their data from is public records though. Have fun tracking down the original source(s) of the information (could be credit card companies which would make sense since Experian is involved).

    • You got me thinking... A dangerous pastime, I know.

      If you keep a full log of everything you do and what your likes and dislikes are then copyright the journal. So when ever someone uses your personal information you can sue them under the DMCA for copyright violations.

  • by Telecommando (513768) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:04PM (#27104955)

    I'm wondering, if Grandma wants to buy a new video game for little Bobby, how is she going to know about any sales in her area? All she's going to get on her TV is commercials for arthritis rub, denture cream, cat food and the like.

    On a related subject, I've also wondered why they target ads to kids anyway. They can't drive, don't have much money and from my experience if I whined and pleaded with my dad to buy me something I saw on TV I generally got sent to my room.

    • by Kabuthunk (972557) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <knuhtubak>> on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:09PM (#27104995) Homepage

      Sadly, a lot of parents cave into their child's slightest whims every single time. I've seen brats in the mall that I would have loved to hit with my car for the way they were acting, and the mother is actually APPOLOGIZING to the brat for not buying him the crap sooner.

      It would be the children of THOSE parents (although it applies to situations not quite that extreme as well, I suppose) that all the advertisements you're thinking of are for.

      • by twostix (1277166)

        You're right but I will say in some sort of weak defence of many of those parents, that a lot of parents I know are *terrified* of metting out *any* discipline in public, even a harsh word. Whether it's as pathetic as being worried of being seen as 'uncool' to a greater fear of public scorn or the greatest fear of having the police, social services, child welfare, whoever knocking on the door and invading the home and family. In our current society there's an enormous amount of pressure on this generation o

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      if I whined and pleaded with my dad to buy me something I saw on TV I generally got sent to my room.

      From what I see, things are different now. Sending a kid to his room is pointless and that's usually his favorite place to start with, plus parents with more money than time or energy tend to spoil kids(*).
      Anyway, even if your dad sent you to your room when you asked him for say, a video game, it doesn't mean that when it was time to actually buy you buy he wouldn't get the one you asked for.
      (*) Not ever

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by David Nabbit (924807)

      On a related subject, I've also wondered why they target ads to kids anyway. They can't drive, don't have much money and from my experience if I whined and pleaded with my dad to buy me something I saw on TV I generally got sent to my room.

      Are you kidding? Child marketing is a huge industry. Coincidentally, I'm pretty sure Dante reserved one of the lower circles of Hell for child marketers.

    • Birthdays, and Christmas. The two days where parents will ask the kids what they want and they will (usually) get it.
    • You've made the assumption that advertisers don't know that Grandma buys the occasional video game for Bobby at Christmas. Don't worry- she'll get those ads too- they will just appear at a frequency appropriate to her visits to Gamestop.

      What I wonder is what kind of ads they'll show my MythTv box. I suppose the equivalents of ExtenZe and Internet Millions would by bigger hard drives and air-in-a-can respectively...

  • Unless cable has infinity bandwidth or they place insertion device at each home for each TV, this will not work.

    Now it you pay them for their box, then they have an insertion device in your home.

    Why would you pay them for the right to sell you to an advertiser? Why are you not getting your TV for free then instead of rising rates?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Once the system goes digital, all subscribers will be identifiable by the MAC address or UID of the cable box. One could argue that ad targeting is one of the primary reasons it's going digital.

      The really bad news is that although many cable boxes are hackable [usbjtag.com], and the UID can be changed, it would either be a telltale sign to the cable company that the box has been hacked, or you just end up getting someone else's targeted ads.

      • You give the industry way too much credit for forward-thinking.

        Every time a cable company takes down an analog channel they can put up twelve digital (SD) channels. That makes operators salivate.

        All other effects of digital (VOD, HD, interactive TV, targeted ads) are things that the operators go along with grudgingly, at best.

        (Of course, I'm speaking about the operators as "institutions". There are many brilliant, forward-thinking people involved, but they're hopelessly outnumbered by maintainers of the s

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pete-classic (75983)

      This is only on digital. And they surely aren't sending a different ad to each subscriber. In all likelihood they're transmitting two to four ads per service.

      Digital cable video bitrates are highly variable. There is no technical impediment to sending out multiple A/V streams on the same service at the same time without increasing the total bandwidth used by the service. Of course, video quality will suffer, but a significant portion of ads are "talking heads" anyway.

      Furthermore, it would be quite possi

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:08PM (#27104987)

    Why should I watch commercials for tampons, tinned soup, and shampoo? Show me Apple ads, Best Buy ads, trailers to movies I might like, etc.

    • When ads come on that I don't like, I have a reason to get off the sofa, take a leak, and grab another beer. If they show ads that are interesting for me, I am liable to wet the sofa, and go thirsty.

      testing a new project in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and some areas of New Jersey

      So what ads do they show to Tony Soprano's crew? New concrete overshoes? Brass knuckles half off at Thugs'R'Us?

    • That kinda reminds me of gametrailers.com and rottentomatoes.com. They let you see movie trailers, which are essentially ads, but most of the time through another ad to see the trailer. While targeted ads are lessing boring than un-targeted ones, I'd hate for marketers to use this as justification for showing more ads.
    • What is the point of giving you Apple or Best Buy adds... It sounds like you are already a fan. Trailer to the movies that you might like may work. Why don't you mail the MPPA your taste in movies and they will email you a newsletter weekly for all the movies that fit your demographics.

  • Those hoveround commercials every 30 minutes during the night are such a pain in the butt... I'm not going to buy one for another 30 years so it's waisted advertising. and the commercials suck! So every time one comes on I turn the channel!! And most of the time don't go back to the original channel for hours if not days, so the channel looses out as the "commercial" ran me away. I would like to see ads about crap im interested in... So who knows this might be a good thing?
    • The targeted ads will have nothing to do with the channel you're watching, so if bad commercials make you turn away, they will now make you turn it off entirely.

      Also, there will be no way to indicate to the cable company that you dislike certain ads, nor would they let you tell them what ads to run even if there were.

  • It's bad enough we get ad's on each page of the guide now they want to push more ad on us how about MORE HD wait DIRECT TV HAS MORE HD better guide with mush less ad's and looks good on a HD TV.

    • Uhhh... sattelite and cable have the same number of commercials. Otherise their schedules would start getting out of sync pretty quick.

  • Anyone remember that Futurama episode where they beamed the commercial into Fry's dream?
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      actually, there was no such episode, however Fox did beam a trailer into people's dreams prior to the start of the first season.

  • Finally no ads with sports, douches,beer,tampons,cereal,toys, insert new pill with horrible side effects here, Depends, advice to see my physician if erection lasts more than 4 hours, pamprin, reducing the effects of PMS, domain registration,...

    I could go on all day. the list of things to advertise to me is 1000x shorter than the ads I currently see. In fact I record almost everything that is episodic and skip commercials.

    Now women in underwear jumping on trampolines selling the latest FPS game or RPG I mig

    • Finally no ads with sports, douches,beer,tampons,cereal,toys, insert new pill with horrible side effects here

      The geek discovers the Fountain of Youth. Or maybe not.

    • What if, instead of telling these companies what we'd *like* to see, we tell them what we *don't* like. Sure it will be a longer list, but its absolutely less revealing in terms of being able to profile people.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Today, our advertising is so full of lies and deceptions, only if they would tell the truth, then the consumer would be able to choose what they need and not what the advertiser wants the to want and buy.

    Our brains can not tell the difference between fact and fiction. It's our higher cognitive abilities that will reason in hope to find the fact. Advertisements don't give the higher functions a chance to work, subsequently and despite the common knowledge that the ads are just ads, in the long term, we end

    • in the long term, we end up thinking what they want us to think.

      Think Different (TM)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) *

        in the long term, we end up thinking what they want us to think.

        Think Different (TM)

        Like that line of Durango commercials that just said "Dodge. Different." And they were right ... things are bigger and uglier than most other vehicles and get really lousy gas mileage. What do you know, truth in advertising.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Our brains can not tell the difference between fact and fiction. It's our higher cognitive abilities that will reason in hope to find the fact.

      Our higher cognitive abilities aren't part of our brains?

      • Our higher cognitive abilities aren't part of our brains?

        Not after you get married, the wife takes over that job

        • Our higher cognitive abilities aren't part of our brains?

          Not after you get married, the wife takes over that job

          Yeah, no kidding. I'm not even married yet (well, I will be next year) and I'm already feeling the effects. Don't resist, give in to your feelings, let the Dark Side control your actions. Somehow it's just ... easier this way.

    • by Brickwall (985910)
      despite the common knowledge that the ads are just ads, in the long term, we end up thinking what they want us to think.

      Speak for yourself, you feeble minded clot. I watch a fair amount of TV, and would rather watch 2 episodes of "Lost" rather than any movie that's come out of Hollywood in the last year. "Simpsons" and "South Park" are easily more topical, and funnier, than most so-called comedies. But your point was ads. I watch a lot of commercials, some of which I find informative, and some of which I

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by toddestan (632714)

        I see a lot of automobile ads. Do they influence me? Yes, to the extent that seeing the vehicle on TV might get me into a dealership to have a look at it, but is my final decision made by TV? Not a chance - I need to evaluate the test drive, the deal, the warranty, operating costs, and, these days, whether the company is likely to survive or not. Ads have zero influence there.

        The fact that they got you to go to the dealership to "have a look" means the ad worked on you. Remember, one of the goals of adver

        • by Brickwall (985910)
          "Having a look" != "buying". Ads are designed to make you buy something. I'm only in the market for a car once every ten years or so; when I am, I start paying attention to ads, looking for what I want. Last time, I had two pre-schoolers, so I started looking at minivans. I didn't even know that Mazda made a minivan, but when I saw a TV commercial for one, I ended up at the dealer. In the end, it turned out to be more expensive and smaller than the Chrysler we eventually bought (and were quite happy with).
          • by toddestan (632714)

            I disagree about the "Ads are designed to make you buy something". A lot of ads are designed to for what the industry calls "branding". In other words, when you think of an item, they want you to think of their product. Using your example of pickup trucks, you may not want now, or ever for that matter. But say you do decide you need one, I bet the first three things you'd think of would be "Ford", "Chevy", and "Dodge", which would be a direct result of all the advertising you've seen for those brands ov

  • by bjdevil66 (583941) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:46PM (#27105251)

    Wife - "Wow - the commercials have changed for the worse, honey... Why do we keep getting ads for pay-per-view porn? I hope the neighbors are seeing this 'cause I'm going to complain to the TV stations and I hope they do too."

    Husband - "Ummm, yeah. I don't know why... these ads are coming. Don't call anyone, though. I'll take care of it..."

  • And what happens when someone hacks into their system and replaces ads for fox news with 2 girls, one cup?
    • And what happens when someone hacks into their system and replaces ads for fox news with 2 girls, one cup?

      Um, nothing? Do you think anyone would notice a difference?

  • by bjdevil66 (583941) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @12:52PM (#27105295)

    The content of the ads could be a little TOO revealing about people. Imagine this conversation after the Super Bowl party:

    "Did you notice that the Smiths had a lot of ads for bankruptcy lawyers? I wonder what's going on with them..."

    It's not an invasion of privacy, but it is a subversion of privacy.

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      Given that they would be targeting households instead of people, could this also be considered a form of discrimination?

      I'm only halfway serious.

  • Hopefully they have "finds Subway repulsive" on file for me.
    • by krray (605395)

      Hopefully they have "finds Subway repulsive" on file for me.

      They do now...

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @02:35PM (#27106033)

    1. Free TV with commercials
    2. Promise of pay TV without commercials
    3. Pay TV with commercials
    4. Pay TV with commercials and shopping channels
    5. Pay TV with targeted commercials and shopping channels
    6. Pay TV where they remove your eyes and jab probes directly into your brain so they can harvest your inner most thoughts for a profit

  • The moment you get a girl living with you, all your ads are going to be for feminine hygiene products. On the other hand, this being slashdot, it is better then the ads we are used to, female depence ads for out mothers.

  • I posted this in another thread. It is a decent solution to avoid all this, primarily by avoiding the "box". Here are the results he got from making and using this antenna.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1128309&cid=26860051 [slashdot.org]

    Enjoy.

    ""It's really not that tough to make. You could make one yourself just as easily in an hour or two. Construction is as follows:

    Make eight Vs from 16" lengths of coat hanger, with stripped insulation at the point(EDIT: Guess he means the plastic coated coathangers). The mout

  • I'm serious. WTF?

  • Using the technology the animation houses and gaming industry already has, the demographic data available, and the fact that your cable company knows your name --

    You can get to that creepy place where the talking head on tv turns and talks directly to you by name, then tells you (based on your debit card use at the shopping center) that your brand of anti-itch cream isn't as good as the one they're advertising -- and with that herpes medicine you're taking you should also try their new herbal product...

  • What if the subscription owner isn't watching, but his wife, his children, or someone else?

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @07:17PM (#27107979)

    It's too late, Diana! There's nothing left in you that I can live with! You're one of Howard's humanoids, and, if I stay with you, I'll be destroyed! Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You are television incarnate, Diana, indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. You are madness, Diana, virulent madness, and everything you touch dies with you. Well, not me. Not while I can still feel pleasure and pain and love.

    Basically, forget television. It is an expensive waste of time. Go out and have fun. Take your daughter out to the park. Get out and enjo a nice sunny day, like we had today where I live. The hell with television. Its time has passed.

  • Hmmm, it's no wonder that we don't have more bandwidth on Cable ISP's vs other countries. All the bandwidth has been held back to send targeted ads!

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