The targeted ads that follow you around the web may be just about to trickle into your smart TVs too as a group of media and advertising companies, spearheaded by popular TV maker Vizio, is planning on developing an ad platform specifically designed for the boob tube.
Vizio may have been in hot water lately due to its run-ins with the FTC and the multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit it just settled, but this is not stopping the company from initiating the project that will aim to become the standard smart TV ad platform across the industry.
In fact, it's probably because of its recent troubles that the company now hopes to create a better smart TV ad platform.
But is this good or bad for consumers? Let's take a look.
Vizio's Project OAR
According to a new report from Reuters, Vizio, the 2nd largest TV maker in the U.S., has formed a partnership with nine media and ad companies to develop a new open standard that will deliver targeted ads to smart TVs for specific households.
The partnership is now known as Project OAR (short for Open Addressable Ready), and aside from Vizio, it includes major networks like NBC and CBS and advertising tech outfits like AT&T's Xandr.
Why the need for a smart TV advertising standard? Well, for one, smart TVs still don't have the typical cookies that web browsers use to track and follow people all around the internet. This makes it tougher to serve effective targeted ads on smart TVs.
Project OAR hopes to solve this by developing and defining the standards for "TV programmers and platforms" to deliver addressable targeted ads on internet-connected smart TVs by the end of this year.
The technology will be an open standard so any TV maker, not just Vizio, will be allowed to integrate the system to their own respective smart TV platforms. So expect to see the Project OAR tech even on other smart TV products from companies like Samsung and Sony.
Vizio, for its part, is promising to use the upcoming Project OAR ad-serving standard on its future smart TV models. Hopefully, in light of Vizio's recent troubles with the FTC, this new standard will be transparent enough with adequate consumer protections in place.
Are you watching TV or is it watching you? Can the new generation of smart TV's be hacked? Listen to this free Komando Consumer Tech Update podcast and find out.
Privacy concerns, naturally
Targeted advertising platforms are the reason why ads sometimes appear to follow you from site to site, even from device to device, and they seem to know what you've been searching for online.
As usual, targeted ads are a big concern for privacy advocates. They think that the practice is invasive and the collected data always runs the risk of being hacked or misused.
However, it's also important to point out that targeted ads are not necessarily a bad thing. When used properly, they actually have their own noble purpose.
They keep advertising efficient and the costs down by serving you ads of products and services that you may like and buy, instead of bombarding you with irrelevant ones. It can be creepy, but there's a practical reason behind it.
Keep in mind, ads can sometimes seem annoying, but they're also the reason most online content is free. Without them, media outlets and content creators would have to find a different source of revenue. Just food for thought.
How to stop your TV from spying on you
Vizio's Project OAR technology may still be a year away but did you know that smart TVs already have the means to track you? It turns out your smart TV is not just gobbling up your viewing data. In some cases, it's also gathering information about your home.
There are various techniques on how to stop your smart TV from collecting your information, depending on the brand but if you're worried about your privacy. Check out our guide on how to minimize your TV's snooping features. We cover every major TV brand -- from Vizio to Samsung to Sony -- and show how to keep those prying eyes off your TV.
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