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Surprising nobody, Vizio makes moves to fill your TV with targeted ads

Vizio wants to recommend more than just highly rated shows to buyers of its smart TVs: It wants to be able to bring targeted ads to your living room.

The electronics company has formed a partnership with nine media and advertising businesses, aiming to develop an industrywide standard that will allow smart TVs to show targeted ads to viewers around the world.

The new standard will address the issue of cookies, which are what allow internet browsers to show targeted ads when you surf the web from tablets, computers, or phones. TVs currently don’t use cookies, which makes it so that ads cannot be targeted to specific viewers.

So far, every TV manufacturer has used different methods to target ads to viewers who own their brand of TV, making scalability of ad campaigns difficult, because various ad campaigns have to be targeted to owners of specific TV brands.

The ability to specifically target certain homes or demographics with certain ads is understandably exciting to those in the advertising business, as it could make nearly all ad campaigns significantly more effective. Understandably, major companies like Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, CBS, and AT&T-owned Xandr are part of the partnership, which is called Project Open Addressable Ready.

But while this may be great news for TV makers and advertisers, customers are likely to feel the opposite. After all, who wants to be shown targeted ads after spending major dough on a brand new smart TV?

Presently, most advertising on smart TVs is for content, so it is less likely to be seen as seriously annoying to those who own smart TVs. But with the advent and implementation of this new open standard, it is increasingly likely that TVs will be attempting to sell products that don’t simply increase your screen time.

With this new standard will come significant ethical questions. Will smart TVs be listening to conversations in your home and using them to target ads like Facebook and Instagram do with cell phones? What steps will be taken to make sure that individuals’ data is safeguarded? These are all issues that need to be addressed by the Vizio-led partnership.

With so many powerful companies involved, it appears your days of turning on your TV to an ad-free home menu are numbered.

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