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Will Your TV Soon Start Listening To Everything You Watch?

Nielsen could be spying on what you watch to deliver personalized ads during live TV.

The TV ratings and data company will study demographic information like consumers’ age and gender to determine which advertising spots would be most effective.

After looking at that information, Nielsen would insert targeted ads between live programming on smart televisions, replacing generic cable TV ads in the process.

For now, it’s functioning as a pilot program that’ll be limited to five U.S. markets, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Tampa, according to AdWeek.

The program uses a process referred to by those in the advertising industry as ‘dynamic ad insertion.’

It relies on a combination of technologies to serve up the targeted ads, including chips in smart TVs and content recognition software.

In this case, Nielsen says it has partnered with chipmaker MediaTek, which the company said are in half of the world’s smart TVs.


Your smart TV may be spying on you to serve up better ads.

The process is referred to as dynamic ad insertion.

Dynamic ad insertion relies on chips in smart TVs, as well as content recognition software, to serve up targeted ads.

The content recognition tech is able to determine when a user is watching a commercial, in order to replace it with an ad catered to their demographic.


Nielsen is also taking advantage of the automatic content recognition technology created by Gracenote, which it acquired in 2017.

For now, the targeted ad trial will be limited to five U.S. markets, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Tampa, as well as networks CBS and A+E

Content recognition technology involves using algorithms to analyze and identify when an advertisement might be playing on a certain television.

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When the algorithm detects that an advertisement is playing, it would replace the cable TV ad with one that’s been selected to fit the viewer’s specific demographic.

Nielsen first announced that it would be running dynamic ad insertion pilots in May.

At the time, it said the trial would be limited to CBS, which planned to run the ads during live national broadcasts.

Now, Nielsen is adding A+E Networks to the dynamic ad insertion trial as well.

The firm has couched the technology as a way for advertisers to get the most out of their ad inventory, while marketers deliver more personalized ads and potentially generate a higher return on investment.


An analysis from Consumer Reports has described the amount of data smart TV manufacturers – and companies that work with them – can access about you and your family.

One of the television makers evaluated in the report, Vizio, has already been in trouble because of this trend.

In 2017 the company was sued by both state and federal regulators because it had not asked for users’ permission before gathering their data.

Vizio had to shell out $1.5million (£1.1 million) to settle a case brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission.

Television manufacturer Vizio has been sued for 'spying' on users. It had to shell out more than $2million between a federal and a state lawsuit last year (file photo)

Additionally, it paid $700,000 (£530,000) to settle with the state of New Jersey.

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The Federal Trade Commission has been clear about the fact that companies have to ask you before accessing your data.

Five television manufacturers were evaluated in the new Consumer Reports study: Vizio, TCL, Sony, LG and Samsung.

The report said that all of the companies were following this Federal Trade Commission rule.

‘Every smart TV we evaluated asked for permission to collect viewing data and other kinds of information,’ the report said.

It also claims it will result in a better experience for consumers while they watch TV.

‘Nielsen recognizes the huge opportunity addressable TV presents for our clients,’ Kelly Abcarian, senior vice president of product leadership for Nielsen, said in a statement.

‘Marketers will be able to better realize the value of their advertising inventory, achieve maximum return on their ad spend and viewers will see messages that are most relevant to them.’

It’s not the first time smart television makers have been found to spy on consumers.

Many smart TV sets have apps and other technology installed in them that can track what shows people are watching, how long they’re watching ads for and whether or not that lead to them purchasing something.

U.S. lawmakers have increasingly pushed back on these practices, however, as they argue that consumers don’t necessarily want their TV watching habits to be fair game for advertisers.

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