PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As you watch television, your TV just might be watching you. Advertisers are using technology to track what we like and don’t like, and then applying it to commercials.

Your TV is likely watching you through that box which collects information on the shows you tune in it.

All that data is sent anonymously, ultimately to advertisers focused on reaching people likely to buy certain products or watch certain shows.

“The benefit to consumers is that you get more relevant ads, that you have fewer ads that are irrelevant to you that are cluttering up your TV experience,” said Jon Werther, of Simulmedia Inc.

Werther successfully helped pioneer targeted advertising on the internet. Now, he’s doing it with television.

What you watch tells a lot about you, sometimes unexpectedly.

A rerun of “Saved by the Bell” at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning has been one of the most highly-effective spots in driving audiences to a crime drama several days later.

It’s not just set-box data, but your other personal data, collected when you ask for credit reports or use retail discount cards. Tech companies like Visible World use this data like direct mail, and can now deliver different ads to different households watching the same program.

“We’ve built a database that talks to Cablevision and sends out these little messages so that set-top boxes switch at the right time to show the right ads in your household,” said Seth Haberman, the CEO of Visible World.

As for privacy, Advertising Age writer Brian Steinberg says it’s a tradeoff.

“That’s becoming the new tipping point of how much information do we want to give out there? And how much will advertisers use to kind of know where we are, where we’re walking, what we like, what we don’t like, what our preferences are, in exchange for more relevant and more interesting advertising,” said Steinberg.

Visible World
Simulmedia Inc.
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