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Really Targeted Advertising 240

Posted by timothy
from the who's-watching-who? dept.
wiredog points to an LA Times article titled "The TV's Eye Is Set on You." The Times summarizes the story like this: "With cable technology that tracks viewers' habits, two neighbors watching the same show will see different commercials. Practice could begin next spring." The ends actually sounds pretty attractive to me (turn off those embarassing-product ads, please!), but the means (ongoing collection of data about each household) certainly don't.
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Really Targeted Advertising

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If they figure out that I don't like any kind of advertisement, will they turn them off altogether?

    Or, more likely, they'll put a surcharge on my cable bill! I can see the line item now:

    Poor Consumer Surcharge ...............$33.05
  • So what happens if you are in the demographic of "25 year old male who does not want to see commercials"? That'd fit me perfectly, and I would be quite happy to never see another commercial in my life. I don't buy things based on commercials, and occasionally I will specifically NOT buy things that have stupid ads. My own quirkiness I guess.

    The problem with targetted marketting is you eliminate the impulse buying. If I only ever saw computer ads, how would the toothpaste people make money off me. I see a random ad that tells me I can whiten my teeth and become more attractive to the opposite sex if I get toothpaste brand 'X', decide I need it and go out and buy it. With targetted marketing I might never see this ad and remain ugly the rest of my life.

    The way that advertising works right now is basically 'show everything to everybody' and it "works" I guess. Just because I never wears womens shoes doesn't mean that an ad for them wouldn't remind me that I need to get my sister/wife/girfriend a gift and hey, shoes is a good idea.

    I say it "works" because I'm not sure how well, but everyone does it so it must be good right?
  • Strangely enough, studies have shown than little girls will watch boy's cartoons, but boys won't watch girl's cartoons. Hence, those ads probabally WERE targeted at the little girls watching boys cartoons demographic. This is also why "She-ra" was summoned from the pits of hell, but that's a different story.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • /me looks around

    You mean to tell me this isn't paradise?


  • Yes. And I don't know about you, but I rarely ever actually see toilet paper ads, and when I do they sure as hell don't talk about how they have "superior wiping ability" or "keep your shit from staining your underwear" or anything else analogous to the damn tampon ads.
  • You are disqualified: The choice involving cowboyNeal makes sense :P

  • by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:08PM (#157277) Homepage
    An extra button on the remote: "Do not ever show me the current commercial again." I know I'd buy one.

  • What's up with the value judgment on menstration?

    Do you think it's gross? Does it make you nervous?

    It's just a part of being female, or are you part of the 'eve's curse' crowd, who see it as evidence of original sin?

    When it's my turn to do the laundry, I stainstick my wife's panties and go on with my life. No big deal.

    Don Negro

  • So, your wife will be redeemed come menopause?

    Don Negro

  • You know, I think it's all based on the misconception that anyone actually gives a rat's ass what you're watching on TV. Have you ever been on the "other side" of this sort of thing? I have, and you know what? There's absolutely no reason to even care. They know what they're broadcasting, and they can tell that 10% of their viewers were on chanel 9 at 10pm.

    I mean seriously, do you expect someone to come up and knock on your door and arrest you for watching blue's clues or something?
  • yeah, we're all sheep. To parahprase somebody else, I don't know about you man but my eyes are wide f'in open. If you believe that "evil corporations" are gonna turn you into sheep, it's only because you let it happen. Like many of the other posters, If I don't have to watch ads for stuff about hemmoroids and soap operas, more power to em! I'd LIKE to see ads that are for stuff I would actually buy.

    You talk of the "erosion" of privacy and I can understand that, but there are certain things that would never matter. What possible harm could come of someone knowing what you watch on TV?
  • I dont' really know about all this targeted advertising bullshit.

    As soon as I bought a house, I was innundated with ads for credit cards, ads for storm windows, ads for aluminium siding, the fucking works.

    Just because it's targeted does not mean it's targeted INTELLIGENTLY.
  • I agree entirely. My last roommate had a television and I accidentally slipped into the mode of watching TV. I have since moved about 4 months ago and don't own a catatonic box and I am much happier for it. Now and then I like to rent a DVD and watch it on my laptop, but beyond this I feel liberated with more time on my hands.

    As for the people who choose to have TV, if they are going to target you with ads, you should demand that the service become cheaper or free. If you are still paying $30-$40 a month for cable, and the cable company is selling ads for more money then you are being used.

  • This type of thing has been going on with magazine subscriptions for a very long time. I've done some work with database marketing companies and they scrutinize their customers (and potential customers) very closely using sophisticated software and big mainframes.

    The result is a technique called "selective binding" which determines exactly which half-dozen annoying little cards fall out of your magazine when you open it. You and your neighbor might both have subscriptions to Basket Weaving Digest magazine, but if the database marketing company knows that you're a drinker and your neighbor is a smoker (for example), you'll receive different inserts with different advertising.

    It's very lucrative for both advertising companies and the database marketing companies they work with. It's not surprising that television is moving this way as well.
  • by dwdyer (5238)
    No, I'm not talking about breaking into the box, I'm talking a little social survey engineering.

    When you're not watching TV, set it to a channel you don't usually watch and turn the TV itself off. For example, I'd set it to Univision and then see how long it takes for commercials in Spanish to start showing up on the other stations.

  • Women, do you have a secret? Do you have a special visitor? Are the painters in at the moment? Feeling strangely averse to swimming? Are you riding your tiny bike?

    Then shut the fuck up about it, because Jon here is a little uncomfortable with the concept of menstruation.

  • To quote:

    Quite simply put, menstruation is God's curse to womenkind because of Eve's actions in the Garden of Eden. If she hadn't have corrupted Adam, then we would still be living in Paradise.

    And, without that act we wouldn't know joy, for without bad, good is arbitrary. Even if Adam and Eve would have been able to reproduce in a perfect state (possible?), their children (us) would not know that Paradise was so good.

    For me, I'd much rather have some evil in the world. When I have a bad day, the good things in my life stand out all the more brightly.


  • I *almost* hate this idea, but not quite. As for me, I think it might have one vaild use:

    Using this system, I (as a male) might be freed from watching commercial after commercial for femenine hygiene products!

    This capability in itself might be enough to get me to give away any shred of privacy I had.
  • That just gave me shivers... :( Scarry.

    I must be the last person in the US who found that you can live with only broadcast TV. If nothing is on, go ride a bike.
  • by Luke (7869)
    Don't watch TV. It's like a direct link into your OWN HOME for advertisers.

    Cable TV is worse because you're paying for the opportunity to be swamped with ads! Wonderful!
  • Reminds me of 1984. There, every party member has a TV home, which is constantly doing commercials for Big Brother (or something like that), and you can turn down the sound, but you can't turn off the TV. The TV is on 24 hours a day.

    That is certainly not the life I want :( Though in 1984 they also have your kids spying on you, cameras all over the place, and always a big picture of Big Brother nearby, whose eyes are following you.

    And, yes... If you don't behave properly, they don't shock your hand, they actually erases you. That mean they rewrite the history so it seems you've never excisted!

    Well, it is not an impossible scenario. I think the society are becoming more and more like it than the otherway around. There are always people like us fighting against it, but many, many people don't mind (we actually have a program called Big Brother here, where the participants are living constantly watched by cameras for several months, and the worst part is that many people want to participate).

  • Our TV is so old that the volume-button is trashed. And if you turn off the TV you have to tune in all the channels again. So if you want to see program a at 17, and program b at 21, you'll normally just let the TV pounder all that bad stuff in the meantime.

    But luckily I don't watch much TV ;)

  • Salesmen want to sell. Any sales person that talks to me either figures out in the first 5 seconds that he will have to answer my question, or he doesn't get the sale.

    Marketing people NEVER answer questions. Their purpose is to manipulate my opinion.
  • by PD (9577) <> on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:06PM (#157294) Homepage Journal
    You nailed down my exact reasons why marketing is annoying to me. The goal of marketing is to cause me to buy something that I normally wouldn't have by subverting my reasoning process. If the product was the best, and I required that product, then marketing wouldn't be needed because I would have chosen that product.

    My dislike for marketing doesn't spill over into sales. Sales is essential for a couple reasons. First, salesmen can answer my questions, or run around like mad trying to answer my questions. They provide information to me that I can use to make my decision. Second, if I have technical support that is lousy, professional sales people are always a great point of contact. I just call them up, tell them that I am disappointed with my technical support. After I hang up, the sales person walks back to the tech support people and kicks their ass for me, because they want to sell to me in the future.
  • I don't want to see adverts for tampons or other such things which a) mean nothing to me, and b) shouldn't be aired publicly anyway.

    You have clearly never watched an ad for a feminine hygene product or for toilet-paper for that matter.

    If you had, you would know that they are so obtuse as to be confusing. You really wouldn't know what they were advertising if it weren't for repeated use of the name.

    I completely fail to see why adverts like this shouldn't be aired. Perhaps because it reminds you of one of the messier aspects of the human condition? Get a grip man.

  • as an insider I can tell you that it is very cool, will only happen in markets that have cablemodems/digital cable working well, and we already collect a crapload of info on you already.

    you think that Tvio can collect alot of info, the motorola digital boxes can collect 10X more information about the viewer. The next generation boxes have a 2 way link to the remote (Kinda like the DMX boxes have.) so you could even collect info such as if the remote is even pointing at the box (or is able to communicate to it) what serial number the remote is, and the battery condition in the remote. add an inertia sensor and we can measure how often you scratch yourself!

    get used to having every part of your life recorded and scrutinized for advertising potential,and sale.. because there's BIG money in it.

    BTW, I mentioned this over 5 months ago, and it's just now getting into slashdot?
  • Pretty much, if I decided to take the time to dump the logs, parse it with perl for your box number. 99.9% of the information is just dumped.
    Example, the only information ever seen by a human is your pay-per-view and ONLY if you dont actually pay it and they have to call you... otherwise it's sent to billing and automatically billed at your rate (yes ppv is not $7.95 for everyone, it changes per negotiated rates per customer... I knew of a guy who got all PPV for $3.00 because he bought so many of them.)

    the only item techs see is that box 544485584XXX is not responding, it's either unplugged or dead.

    but I could get into the information, if I wanted to waste an afternoon, but then how do I connect the info without raiding the billing database? (they get grumpy about that).
  • Advertising is more or less a fact of life, so I don't think targeting is necessarily such a bad thing. If I'm forced to sit through ads, I'd rather see ads for things I might actually be interested in instead of commercials about that 'unfresh feeling'.
    What I would really like is to not see ads for things I've alrady bought. Nothing pisses me off more than watching ads for DirecTV on my DirecTV system.. Hello? Its like having printed ads for literacy - why bother?
  • But I don't watch tv much anyway, so it doesn't matter to me.

    Is being on the internet 24/7 really all that much better than watching tv? I don't think so myself, personally...
  • Though in 1984 they also have your kids spying on you, cameras all over the place, and always a big picture of Big Brother nearby, whose eyes are following you.

    Kind of like dotcoms soliciting kids for their parents' buying paterns (it's illegal for companies to collect that information about kids themselves, but apparently, it's okay to ask kids about their parents - shame i forgot the reference), schools solititing their students to turn in their parents for smoking pot. 70 or 80% of the streets in most cities are under private survelance already, only a subpeona away from being checked out by the authorities, and who needs a TV in the living room following you, when the same can be done online through webbugs, eschelon, etc....

    If it's not worse than the novel, it's getting there pretty quickly, just a few years late is all...
  • paying the same amount for internet access... with even more widespread tracking, more ads, ads which don't even look like ads (product placements and paid reviews anyone?).

    Okay, i guess you could use NetZero, but in the end you're surrendering exponentially more amounts of information about yourself by using the internet than by watching TV. Because TV is so limited. They can only get a vague concept of your household via checking and seeing what your'e watching, as opposed to, knowing exactly what information you're seeking out (search engines), or just having a much clearer, more refined idea of your interests, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of niche websites out there.

    You can't say "TV bad, because the cable companies can track you', while on the internet... because you're leaving a much more intricate trail online.
  • What is there to explain? You like porn. Best to find a girl who is fine with that then trying to hide it.
  • Well, thanks to timeshifting and the fast-forward button, interruptive comercials are irrelevant anyway. So they're going to have to somehow do product placement dynamically. I'm going to see Bender suddenly turn to the camera, hold up a bottle of Samual Adams, and say, "This is great beer!" while my neighbor, watching the same show, gets a scene where Leela casually mentions what she buys whenever she gets that not-so-fresh feeling. Hmm...

  • Indeed. Haven't watched more than five minutes without getting disgusted at the lowest-common-denominator approach, getting up, and turning it off in at least a year.
  • That's yet another in a long list of reasons not to have a TV.

    What really bothers me is that there can be (are?) ISPs who monitor traffic and sell the data to companies like Doubleclick.

    Does a tin-foil helmet work over ethernet?
    Shiny side in, out, or only on 10-base-T?
    bukra fil mish mish
    Monitor the Web, or Track your site!
  • But what about a world where everyone is sophisticated enough to realize that Coke doesn't add life, that talking ducks don't solve your insurance needs, and that drinking Budweiser is unlikely to attract hordes of Bud-drinking hotties all wanting to meet you?

    This isn't really the purpose of most advertising, and certainly not the purpose of the examples given here. For better or worse, advertising builds brand recognition in the hope that, when you buy something, you'll think of the advertised brand/product and at least consider buying it. Coke, McDonald's, The Gap . . . they don't need to advertise to tell you about their products (though they might also do that); they advertise to make sure you remember that they exist and that they offer for sale something you might like.

    Incidently - and has been pointed out here before - this is one of the reasons that the importance (to advertisers if not to web sites) of click-through rates for (most) banner ads is vastly overstated. Other than infomercials, most ads aren't intended to spur immediate purchases.

    For this reason, it's not simply a matter of ignoring advertising. It's certainly possible to resist advertising, but that's not the same thing. If you even think about buying your next pair of pants from The Gap (or Levi's, or Haggar, etc.), you've already done exactly what the advertiser wanted you to do. You aren't evil, you aren't a sucker, you aren't even abnormal, but you are an operating part of the system. How much it's worth to you to try to avoid advertising altogether or to reject consciously every brand you've ever seen advertised (which is about the only way to avoid its effects) is an individual call.

  • I have dish network satellite service. I have the dish PVR 501 (I think new subscribers can get it for $150 or so). It has a 40g hard disk. When I record channels with commercials, there is a skip button that jumps over them. None of this Tivo fast-forward only. And the NASA channel doesn't have commercials.

    As far as privacy, there is a phone connection on the box that I've never connected. (It caches pay-per-view purchases and periodically will call and upload them). But I never bought any (I already get all the movie channels).

    Works for me.
  • do they tell when your tv or your cable box is off? because I leave the cable box on all day(and nite) but I turn the tv off. now since I watch cartoon network would I only get bombarded with childrens ads?

  • I was going to object to this sort of practice, except that it occurred to me that I could care less how they try to target ads to me - I'm not going to be swayed by advertisements. Never have, never will. I doubt they'll even figure out much of a way to target me with things that interest me.

    Which brings up a bigger question; after 100 years of modern advertising in America, why are so many still so gullible? It shocks me all the time.

    I still think that targeted advertising is greatly misunderstood. The power of modern advertising is its vast scale - "As seen on TV". I don't think targeted ads are going to be much more effective. If your friend hasn't seen that ad where the woman farts in the car, chances are you won't talk about it over the water cooler. And, to really make targeted ads effective, you really have to understand your audience. That takes work, and means lots of extra effort to reach a smaller and smaller audience. The difficulty of that, which is great, may negate the increased effectiveness.

    But what about a world where everyone is sophisticated enough to realize that Coke doesn't add life, that talking ducks don't solve your insurance needs, and that drinking Budweiser is unlikely to attract hordes of Bud-drinking hotties all wanting to meet you? Advertisers would be limited to conveying useful information (yes, "we can afford this expensive ad" is informative).

    Here's a tip; don't be swayed by ads! If you buy a product you saw advertised, buy it because it's cheaper, or demonstrably better, or you have no choice. Change your product loyalties the second those things change. If you think "Nikes must be better than XYZ shoes because they are Nike" then you are still gullible. Now watch them twist in the wind trying to figure out how to get you to buy crap.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • I'm not going to buy any of the crap they're trying to sell.

    Perhaps you really meant "I'm not going to change my buying habits based on a commercial", because unless you live in a cave I find it difficult to believe that you've never bought anything that you've seen a commercial for. I bet your electric company does commercials, are you off the grid in protest? :)

    So, as long as they include a way to turn off all ads, I'll be happy.

    The ads pay for the content. Turn off the ads, turn off the content, and everything becomes pay-per-view. Be careful what you wish for.
  • From what I understand, for a few days every month, women like to pour blue liquid on things, play tennis and wear tight white jeans.

  • Didnt Kryten say that in Red Dwarf 7?
  • Also: I live in a van down by the river! :)
  • I've been thinking about this for a while, it's kind of entertaining (and scary) to actually try to figure out what demographic the show you're watching is trying to sell to.

    Sometimes, when I'm watching some show, and see lots of ads for said products (ie, tampax, whatever that new acne-fighting birth-control pill is called) I get to thinking -- is this show primarily watched by women?

    Or when I see adds for Viagra/alternatives to the big V, I get to wondering how many younger guys are watching the same show.

    What really throws me is when I'm watching late night TV, and there's an ad for some kids sing-a-long tape set or something.. weird stuff..

    Anyway, this prolly seems offtopic, but, I too, won't mind seeing ads for products that I might actually buy.

    Then again, the thing that really pisses me off about commercials isn't the 3 minute break from the "content" but the brainwashing frequency of the commercials. I HATE seeing the same ad for the same product (Destiny's Child - Survivor comes to mind) EVERY commercial break for 2 hours straight.. drives me nuts. Wonder if tightening the demographic on a user-by-user basis will ultimately increase the frequency of individual ads..
  • > I must be the last person in the US who found that you can live with only broadcast TV.

    Nope, maybe the second-last, but not the last.

    I tried it by accident (couldn't be bothered to order cable when I moved into my new place a few years ago) and discovered I didn't miss cable. OK, I miss Babylon 5, but it's all reruns anyways. And I don't miss it to the tune of $40/month.

    While travelling on business this year, I wound up in a hotel with full cable for a week, and was amazed to discover that the probability there's something on worth watching was pretty much the same as it was at home, so I grabbed a TV guide from the newsstand and figured that I'd probably watch no more than an hour of "new TV" a week if I went from my current 9-channel universe to the 50-channel cable subscription.

    57 channels and nothin' on, indeed.

    Of course, I'm in the Bay Area, and can get three PBS stations, which goes a long way during pledge weeks. (Woo-hoo, a few months ago, the entire Season 7 of Red Dwarf in an all-day marathon, and four hours of Dr. Who last weekend!)

  • > So, while you're away camping for a week, your 16-year old brings his friends over and they watch the playboy channel. When you come back, how do you get rid of all the 'directed' pornography adds on your TV?

    Sounds like a great way to discourage the 16-year-old from watching the Playboy channel.

    "Son, I know you can h4x0r around the child-lock, so I'm not gonna bother. But we both know you can't fake out the TV's spyware. And if you can, hell, you've earned the right to watch all the pr0n you want, as long as you tell me how you did it!"

  • > If anybody started linking names and anonymous consumer data, yeah, that's bad. But anybody pulling that gets called on it real quick, and pay a big price in PR damage.

    And what part of "individually-addressable" didn't you understand when it came to cable boxen?

    Big price in PR damage? Maybe. But that doesn't change the fact that Doubleclick is continuing to amass data, waiting for the day when they can get away with it.

    When will the data collectors be able to link profiles to real identities without a big price in PR damage? When the people who...

    > just a little to automatically paranoid about data. Kneejerk reaction whenever the topic comes up...

    ...become thought of by mainstream America as being, well, automatically paranoid about data, and having a kneejerk reaction whenever the topic comes up.

    > Why is everyone so freaked out about collection of consumer data? [ ... ] Why does everyone see this as a bad thing?

    When only outlaws have privacy, privacy will be outlawed.

  • Are you CRAZY?

    I WANT to see commercials about tampons, I want to hear "Are you one of the millions of American males who would like increased sexual energy?" and "Not all women are satisfied with their bust size". I don't give a SHIT about any of those things, and I will never, ever buy them or anything related to them.

    If all of a sudden the TV knows I'm a nerd, I get flooded with Computer Associate and Singular ads, not the mention the "This company just merged with another company, and their databases are compatible because they use" Mircosoft commercials. When I go to buy something, I want my judgement to be based on the product, not on the (subconcious, unavoidable) advertising.

    I say keep the Viagra, Bowflex, and Rogaine commercials coming my way.
  • by taniwha (70410) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:03PM (#157348) Homepage Journal
    Just you wait 'till they hook it all up together .... pretty soon they will notice you haven't bought toilet paper for a while and ALL the ads become ads for TP .... then you notice that you only see ads for the brands of TP that you DON'T buy ....
  • This has nothing to do with digital or analog. Both are very easily trackable based on the reflection from impedance mismatch (theres always some). Not only can they tell what channel your watching, but also how many TV's you have, approximately where they are in your home (distance from jack in wall, and distance jack is from the one in the basement) as well as whether you have good or poor reception :). Those are quite easy to do for a college electronics graduate. Digital cable actually makes it *slightly* more difficult in that additional electronics are required on your end rather than just theirs. Now, the neat part is you can actually see if they're looking for your reflections based on their reflections of your reflections. I've always wanted to be in mid channel change when they take a look but haven't put together the 'black box'.
  • With cable technology that tracks viewers' habits, two neighbors watching the same show will see different commercials.

    By which you mean, "two neighbors watching the same show will change channels to AVOID different commercials." Yup, truly an advertising in-no-vation.


  • I agree that I rather see ads that appeal to me as oppose to ads that just waste my time. However, the concern here is not that advertisers will be more effective. The concern surrounds basic privacy. The question has to be asked, what else will the cable companies do with the information. Will I begin to receive phone calls from the Sierra Club just because I watched an episode of Nature? Will my name be submitted to a massive database that could be accessible potentially by the public? "Sorry Pete, but you don't get the job. We're not interested in people who watch Cartoons all day." Worse, how about our kids. I don't want some company building up a profile on my kids. Targeting them with luring adds. Do you want your kid to watch a TV commericial that says, "Hey Danny, you should really buy this RasterBlasterX11. Your buddies Tommy and Rodney got one, so you better if you don't want them to think you are a loser." Will it be OK for the school to request your kid's lifelong TV viewing habits on the college admission application? If that information is public, what possible ethical objection could you have? Should your insurance company or bank have access to these records? Who owns the information? You or the cable company? Should you be allowed free access to it? I'd personally prefer anonimity.
  • "People love to buy things, but they hate to be sold things."

    I think that about sums things up. It's always made sense to me.

    Incidently, if it matters, I think I heard that from my Dad. He was a salesman, but at least understood the idea that he's there to give information when asked for it.

  • I didn't say "my kids", I said "kids" as in, "in general" ... And that was just one example.

    Sure, talking to people face-to-face is always the best way to learn about something, but not the only way. My point is that TV, and therefore TV advertising, is ONE of the many important ways we learn about out society and our surroundings.

    I'm 22, and I don't have kids to talk to, and I can't really think of a better way to quickly figure out what kind of things little kids are into these days than turning on some Saturday morning cartoons (or Nickelodeon, etc.) and watching the ads.

  • by nlh (80031) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @12:14PM (#157357) Homepage
    Despite the benefits that targeting advertising brings (more stuff that's more relevant to you), I think we'd be missing out on what has really become an an important aspect of American culture (as lame as that sounds.)

    Advertising is the medium through which many of our cultural "themes" get passed. Let's say you're an older guy (50+) would you feel, for example, if you never actually saw a Mountain Dew or MTV ad? Wouldn't you want to know what kids these days are up to?

    I WANT to know what other people are buying -- I'm curious about "what's out there". When I was a teenager, how else would I have ever discovered what the hell this "douche" thing was if I didn't ask my girl friends what the "that not so fresh feeling" actually meant? :)

    I remember a few months ago I went out to L.A. for the first time (I live in Boston) and I was AMAZED at the sheer number of 'Get Bigger Breasts' or 'Dr. blah-blah's Plastic Surgery Center' etc. ads that were on TV and the radio (and I'm not kidding.) It was a way for me to get a snapshot, as lame as it is, of what's important to some people out there.

    That kind of information is important, and I'd feel significantly more out of touch without it.

    Of course, there's always AdCritic. ;)

  • Since all sorts of data collection happens anyway (grocery store cards, credit cards, direct and indirect marketing, profiles, etc.) I'd much rather have targeted advertising than not. While we do need to be very careful about what kind of information is shared, I really don't care that my grocery store knows I buy vegetarian foods, and I'd rather see ads for Morningstar Farms or Boca than for Foster Farms or Tyson.

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. []
  • Haven't watched in almost 2 years now...

  • Which brings up a bigger question; after 100 years of modern advertising in America, why are so many still so gullible?

    Because they haven't been alive for 100 years. Why do you think advertisers target the 18-30 year olds so hard? Because we're relatively rich and relatively dumb.

  • Maybe I'm all by myself on this one, but I don't mind targeted advertising. I realize that it can have some really bad results when used incorrectly, but so can nuclear power, and I support that too.

    The convenience of being presented with ads that interest me outweigh the threat that someone will find out what shows I watch, and what times. I know it's alot more involved than that, but for me personally I think it's not a bad thing. I remember buying Computer Shopper back when it was 1/3 of a tree, and I didn't get it for the articles.

    I agree it isn't a good thing for everyone, but from my view, it's not the big-brother-fear-inducing move that it might be viewed as. Save that fear for what deserves it.

  • That would be cool...

    Guy's sitting on his couch, stands up to go get a beer during a commercial break...

    TV: Hey bitch! Where do you think YOU'RE going?
    Man: Er I was going...
    TV: Sit your bitch ass back down! You can go do your thing when the show comes back on!

    Yeah... that's the future I want to live in...

  • Advertisers are already doing this to an extent by advertising on shows that they think their customers would probably watch. Targeted advertising is nothing new.

    This degree of targeting is really no different from targeted internet advertising and the like. The end result is simply that we get advertising we might actually be interested in. Is that really a bad thing?

  • The world is heading in an unpleasant direction, and we have to do something to get it to stop before our entire lives are centered around advertising. It's disturbingly postmodern, and the problem is that it has been such a slow process that only a few have noticed it.

    First it was the Internet. Cable TV comes next. Then public TV. Within a decade, billboards are going to be changing just for you as you drive down the street.

    Targeted advertising is not the problem. The problem is having personal information about your work and personal life spread around the world on computers that any script kiddie with a few free minutes could get into. How long do you think it will be before this sort of information becomes seizeable and admissible into court?

    Charmin knows you better than you think.

  • I too like the ends ... however, what kind of man can not sit through a tampax comercial? Is it really that bad? I still have the feeling that I will see a lot of car adds no matter what I do!
  • Ya know, I wouldn't really mind. If everything were on a pay-per-view basis, most content would be fairly cheap. Considering my television habits consist of watching The Simpsons, The West Wing, and South Park, I would be happy to shell out two hours worth of fees per week.

    Perhaps if the couch potatoes had to pay for their laziness, they would be motivated to be more productive. :)

  • Guess that would make "World's Most Shocking Videos Part XVII" a little more entertaining, eh?
  • while this is bad for privacy, it's great for killing ads! just connect your cablebox to the internet and have a program hash each frame. it compares these hashes to other people tuned into that channel and ... knowing that there's a commercial on, it mutes the screen. maybe it also hits the 'last channel' feature for you. maybe you'll set it to jump back to your favorite show once it returns from a commercial break. (maybe this has already been done?)

  • Slight correction there, bucko... Adam and Eve would still be in Paradise, but the rest of us poor schmucks wouldn't exist. Why bother having sex if you live in a garden of infinite pleasures?

    Probably a doctrinal point, though.


  • *ROFL!* Oh, to have mod points...

    Although for a second there I thought you were talklng about the "TP Event Horizon"...


  • by 13013dobbs (113910) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:42AM (#157386) Homepage
    How do you explain to your girlfriend the fact that you get a lot of pay-per-view porn ads?
  • Well, to be fair, we have to sit through commercials for "Girls Gone Wild!" videos when we're trying to watch the daily show : P Seriously, which is worse?

    - Rei
  • Hell yes! If your girlfriend won't look at porn with you, don't marry her. Watching porn with your sweetie can be one of the most rewarding ways of spending an evening together. Hint - let HER have the remote control [and pay particular attention to the things she fast-forwards over and the things she wants to see in slow-motion].

    That goes for anything: if you like $ACTIVITY, and your significant other thinks that $ACTIVITY is [disgusting|immoral|boring|waste of time], it's going to be a bone of contention in your relationship -- reach an understanding early on if you can, break up if you can't; otherwise start saving up money to pay for the inevitible court battle.

  • Unfortunately, I already posted to this thread, otherwise I would mod you up. Very insightful post -- you have really hit the nail on the head. Once this data is captured in a database and linked to your identity, you have NO control of how it's going to be used -- it can be subpoenaed, bought, sold, traded, stolen, and misused in more ways you can think of.
  • I have to disagree. I don't buy my clothes on the basis of commercials -- I buy what's comfortable and what looks good on me. I could give a rat's ass about who's name is on the label -- but, when I find a particular brand that fits well or is comfortable, I'm more likely to buy that brand again based on my experience. Advertising may get you to make the first purchase, but if the product is crap the company won't be getting any repeat business from ME.

    Ditto with stores -- I've learned, by experience, that most stores don't usually stock clothes in my size; so I don't patronize them, regardless of how cool or inticing their ads are or how good a sale they are running.

  • by -=OmegaMan=- (151970) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:49AM (#157404)
    ... if you could put in the facts that you

    a) Already own a car and are not planning on purchasing another anytime soon.
    b) Are not interested in getting your high school diploma through the mail.
    c) Probably won't be purchasing any bras but wouldn't mind seeing more commercials for them.

    If the level of advertisement stays the same (or, perhaps, decreases due to successful targeting), this will be great. Less ads for crap I don't want to buy, more ads for crap I do. :)

  • You nailed down my exact reasons why marketing is annoying to me. The goal of marketing is to cause me to buy something that I normally wouldn't have by subverting my reasoning process. If the product was the best, and I required that product, then marketing wouldn't be needed because I would have chosen that product.

    I used to hate martketing and advertisements for the same reasons, it just seems so manipulative. But looking at it differently, look what marketing has achieved:

    • Newspapers with loads of information and content on the state of the world (with differing ranges of bias, but some are pretty good). Price: .50 to $1.00.
    • TV, loads of entertainment ranging from mindless slapstick to intelligent drama to historical documentaries (I've learnt so much about WWII, thanks History channel), with some productions that easily rival movie quality. Price: I've seen as low as $7/month (plus price of a TV).
    • Magazines, (skipping the newsweeklies) filled with stories ranging from so-so writers to great undiscovered talent. Price: depending, a few dollars normally, never as much as a hardcover.

    Point being, there's a load of content out there that's maintained very cheaply off of subversive marketing. Have I been affected by it, probably (in my case, I can't afford much anyways), but damn I get a lot out of it.

    Of course I don't know marketing well, for all I know, there might be a reasonable alternative for similar prices that doesn't include advertisements. But this system seems to work pretty okay.

  • by wodelltech (168047) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:46AM (#157408)
    I first realized they (i.e., Comcast Cablevision in MD) could do this when my wife had a phone conversation with one of their service reps that went something like:

    [Rep]: Maam, please tune to channel 3
    [Wife]: I am on 3
    [Rep]:'re on 5

    I returned the digital cable box the next day. (This was a year or so ago.)
  • by zombieking (177383) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:50AM (#157413)
    Eventually, companies hope to refine the technology to target different viewers in the same family.

    Man: "....Ok, honey. Have fun."
    (Wife leaves to go shopping.)
    Cable Box: "PSST. Hey Buddy..."
    Man: "???"
    Cable Box: "PSST, Over Here.
    Man: "Who Said That?!"
    Cable Box: "It's me the cable box. Now that the wife is gone, we here at the cable company want to offer you low subscription rates to Playboy Magazine..."
    Man: "HUH?!"

  • Christ, I can't wait until the day when I get to see adverts that at least apply to me rather than "generic consumer X" who is the compound of a thousand flawed consumer surveys.

    I don't want to see adverts for tampons or other such things which a) mean nothing to me, and b) shouldn't be aired publicly anyway.

    Adverts are evil, but at least this way they'll be an evil I can perhaps use. Whereas with websites targetted advertising is already realistic (just look at the adverts at the top of this page for instance) currently TV adverts must cater to the lowest common denominator, and this means we all have to sit through endless adverts for pet food, pop crap and "feminine hygene" products rather than adverts for products we might actually want.

    I'll gladly accept giving companies some info to avoid this kind of rubbish. And I believe I won't be alone in this view.

  • by sdo1 (213835)
    TiVo is my solution to every TV-related problem...

    I just fast-forward through all the ads anyway. It's really only when I nod off while watching the tube that the commercials get played. Or on the odd time that I'm actually watching something live (not that often).

  • I don't subcribe to any magazines because of all the paper junk mail that comes because of it. It takes about 3 years for all the hot prospect chasers to decide to save the postage after letting the subscription lapse. If you don't believe it, subscribe to anything for your cat. Watch the mail come for your cat! I had a wrong initial on my car registration. I didn't fix it after I started getting junk with the same error. It was interesting to find out Uncle Sam can't keep personal information confidential.
  • 8 hours with out a single channel surfing kinda indicates a dead viewer.
  • by BlowCat (216402) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:57AM (#157434)
    When I reinstalled Linux 2 months ago I decided not to reinstall gatos (TV software for ATI video cards). I live 2 months without TV and believe me, I don't miss it. All the news can be found on the web. I'm not using Junkbuster, but I'll install it if the ads become annoying. TV steals your time. It doesn't really entertain. And now it's going to track you. It's too much!

    By the way, I have more time to code, to listen to the music, to talk to my friends. In fact, I'm having a date tomorrow - first time since April 2000!

  • by briggsb (217215) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:48AM (#157435)
    ...but I don't think it would help any of these ad campaigns [].
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @05:32PM (#157436)
    I've got a scary feeling this is going to turn television in to something like playing the Sims:

    "Have you seen the cool Bud frogs advert yet?"
    "Oh, your ratings must be off. What're your stats?"
    "Chat Shows 3, Documentaries 4, Home Shopping 1, News 1, SciFi 5, Soap Operas 2"
    "Oh, well that's obviously it, you need to get your Chat Shows up to a 4 and your Documentaries below 2 before you have any chance."
    "But there's that cool Evils Of Microsoft documentary on tonight!"
    "Too bad, you're watching Springer for double chat show points unless you want to miss the talking frogs."

    While you're going through all that, you'll have to read articles on slashdot all day about Taco et al hacking their TiVos to fake their viewing habits just to get the cool commercials that they bought the TiVo units to avoid in the first place.

  • If I move into an apartment, the previous renter having watched an ungodly amount of pr0n, and the cable company forgets to flush their viewing habit records, am I going to get flooded with commercials for aphrodisiacs and french ticklers? Seriously though. I used to work for a cable company not too long ago, and I don't see enough bandwidth available in those cables to send each user their own personalized 3 minute commercial break. Maybe reserve a few channels for demographic 'groups' but not individual users.
  • Ummm, I'm not sure if everybody realizes this, but this guy is being dead-serious. While some people might find this funny, it's not his intent.

    Personally, when it comes to menstuation, I fall in line more with Dave Foley.

  • Wouldn't it be nice to change the settings on your TV so your 4-year-old isn't getting the Victoria's Secret ads?

    Uh, we're protecting 4-year-olds from lingerie ads now? They must be pretty damn fragile.

    Though I have to wonder, what is the 4-year-old watching that would have those ads in the first place? Teletubbies?

  • Jon:

    My wife and I are true believers (if by true believers you mean redeemed by Christ's blood) and I acknowledge your points above. But I do have to take small exception to your last paragraph:

    When my wife sheds blood, she knows that it is her punishment as a women, and is properly ashamed of the flaws of her kind.

    My wife knows about Eve's part in the Fall, but I don't think she or I feel personally responsible for it. We both know we're sinners in need of forgiveness, but "ashamed of the flaws of her kind"? We're ashamed to be sinners, yes. But "of her kind"? Man, that's harsh!

    I don't dig feminine hygiene product ads any more than the next guy, but I don't think I've ever picked up a "I flow and I go and I'm a WOMAN!" vibe. More like, "What to use to get through this without accidents or discomfort" kind of thing.

    HOLD THE PHONE - I just re-read your title. Don't you mean "Menstruation is a result of sin"?

    - Should probably talk more about Jesus and less about GT anyway ;)

  • Is this the same Slashdot that rails against any online company trying to collect viewer data? Doubleclick is the great evil. But Cable can't do any wrong? Huh? Could somebody explain to me why online tracking is bad, and TV tracking is good?

    Personally, I use rabbit ears (antenna) on my TV, so I really don't care. But it's yet another reason for me NOT to get cable TV.

  • You are not giving anyone your address by watching a television show. The cable companies ALREADY know your address from your billing info. Your cable company will know who you are whether they do customized ads or not. If they tried to sell your profile combined with your address to tree-spam companies, THAT would be evil.

    Exactly. Your cable company (which is probably a huge multi-national corporation, made up of many, many companies) already has all of your personal information, and they know everything that you watch every second that your TV is on. More than likely, that information, which is not only linked back to you, but to the TV that you're using, is shared amongst this huge multi-national corporation. And who's to say that they don't sell stats about you and your TV watching habits? More than likely, they already do and you just don't know it. With cable TV, there is no way, whatsoever, other than pirating it, to block your information from the cable company. If you're worried about it online, just use Safeweb or something similar. Hell, not only is your cable TV company watching everything you do, you're PAYING them for it. Now THAT'S invasive.

  • How would you feel if after spending a few hours downloading pr0n and mp3's from Usenet, you started getting adds for 'Hot Teen Slut Warehouse' and 'Columbia Record Club'?

    Targeted advertising is cool so long as the companies doing so are targeting people they beleive are likely to watch their show, rather than targeting me based directly on what I watch.
  • Here's one slippery slope of targetted advertising. The more varied our interests, the more varied the advertising. As underground or mainstream an audience is, that's the advertising they would recieve. This is until advertising is a mirror reflection of ourselves. Might one consequence be we don't like what we see? The flip side is we don't want others to see it either.
  • [Rep]: Maam, please tune to channel 3
    [Wife]: I am on 3
    [Rep]:'re on 5

    That reminds me of an horrible experience of my brother with a sysadmin at a powerhouse company:

    [Support]: ...Please click the OK button.
    [Bro]: I clicked it.
    [Support]: clicked the CANCEL. Let me show this for you.

    To his horror the mouse pointer moved by itself and clicking the apps. I later told him the sysadmin could take control of his computer with some tools like PCAnywhere without your knowledge, and you can't uninstall it because it's an admin-locked NT workstation.

    He never play quake/watch p0rn thereafter. Poor guy.

  • by hyrdra (260687)
    that the LA times site has two adds that pop-up when I clicked the story. And they're complaining about commerical advertisement?
  • They've been able to do this for awhile now -- with the wide adoption of digital cable. Not only can they tell what channel you're on, but each box collects information about your viewing habits (and not just on premium services). The same bandwidth (around 800 MHz) which brings your RR also allows your cable boxes to be addressable on the subscriber level.

    In addition, I was quite upset with my own cable company (Insight Communications in Columbus, OH), because when the guy came to install RoadRunner he configured a proxy which would collect URLs from your browsing habits, and then use targeted advertising on the company's homepage. A further look at the terms of service revealed that these cable companies are only limited by the various Cable acts, which allow them to collect any information they want and not tell anyone as long as they don't share it with other companies. This means they can monitor your web usage, and your TV viewing habits to build a complete profile of who you are.

    Obviously there needs to be some other restrictions placed on these companies -- who are shaping up to be the biggest spys in commercial history.
  • This isn't that simple though. I personally don't watch much TV either. The problem is the masses who won't change, will continue to allow this data to be collected, and pretty soon the government and corp's know more about your 'personal profile' than you do. You could be labeled a mass-murderer/pedophile/bigot/white-supremacist/Ch ristian/muslim/etc. before you even reach the age of 15. Then you're imprisoned for your own, and everyone else's future 'protection'. That's not right.
  • This degree of targeting is really no different from targeted internet advertising and the like. The end result is simply that we get advertising we might actually be interested in. Is that really a bad thing?

    Not bad, exactly, but I must say the concept boggles my mind. How precisely do they expect to know what *I* like to purchase? I watch Friends, so I must be an airheaded blonde and will buy lots of hair dye?

    Every time I hear the phrase 'targetted advertising' I'm reminded of people who think that just because I like the Doors, I'd also like Led Zepplin. Unfortunately, if it were anywhere CLOSE to that simple, we'd be a pretty homogenous society...

    I still say retailers would have much more success just letting ME pick what I want. Trust me, Mr. Salesman. I'm perfectly capable of making my own decisions. I research things directly myself. Thanks to the internet, I no longer give a rat's ass just what brand of chewing gum 4 out of 5 dentists use. Oh wait, that'd mean I could use my own BRAIN - guess this won't work for society as a whole :)

  • Sweet! Now I'll get nothing but beer and porn ads while I watch Disney! You gotta admit how awesome that would be... :D
  • turn off those embarassing-product ads, please!

    No kidding, Timothy. I really don't want to drink anything called 'bawls'. Please remove the banner ads so we can all troll in peace.


  • by Dutchie (450420) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @11:43AM (#157498) Homepage Journal
    You're going to have TV with an 'eye' that laserpinpoints your eyeball movements and makes sure that you're actually watching the ads by seeing if the laser reflects off of your retina. If you're not watching, an electrode that MUST be inserted in your arm in order to start up the TV will be sent a series of electric shocks until your eyeball is properly aligned again.
    • Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Money is the root of all wealth.