Thanks to Targeted Advertising, Now Your TV is Watching You
The system works by anonymously matching customer names and addresses with other information gathered by third parties, and deciding which ad to show in that household. Another system from Simulmedia Inc. is slightly less intrusive; it monitors what shows are being watched, and then breaks viewers down into categories, such as "heartstringers" (romantic-comedy watchers) and "fake news followers" ('The Daily Show' set). An algorithm then determines the best best ads to deliver to those viewer groups.
Dave Morgan, founder of Simulmedia, told the Wall Street Journal that the industry wants "rifle-shot targeting," but online-style personalized ads are still a long ways off for TV viewers. It's clear that content delivery companies must play catch up with Web advertisers to maintain relevancy, as targeted ads draw premium prices. If you're the paranoid type, most companies -- including DirecTV, Tivo and Cablevision -- offer a way to opt out of the targeted ad programs by calling their customer service lines.