Published on June 10th, 2022
Most of us have accepted that we are going to be subjected to at least some data collection when we use our computers, tablets, and smartphones. These devices have been “connected” for years.
That’s not the case with TVs, which have only become connected recently. Many people haven’t considered the amount and types of data that can be collected from smart TVs or how advertisers use them.
How Is Data Collected From Smart TVs?
When someone turns on their smart television, data may be collected from:
- The smart TV itself
- Any installed apps
- Plug-in devices, such as Fire or Roku sticks
- Video game consoles
Viewed content on a smart TV comes from the internet, which essentially creates a two-way connection, to and from your smart TV.
This data is collected using many of the same methods that are used to collect behavioural and consumption data from smartphones or computers. There are cookies and pixel tracking technologies. Additionally, cross-device tracking may be possible.
For example, a viewer who signs into their Netflix account using the same information on their phone as their smart TV can expect data from both devices to be collected and used.
What Kind Of Data Is Collected?
The data that is collected from a smart TV can vary depending on:
- User behaviour
- Apps or devices a person uses
- Steps taken to limit or block the information a person shares
A smart TV, along with other apps and devices, may collect information from user input, websites visited, apps downloaded, installed ads that are clicked or viewed, and content metrics.
For content metrics, data may be collected about the types of content being viewed and from which connected TV platforms they are accessed. Metrics like the length of viewing time may also be collected.
What Is ACR?
ACR is an abbreviation for automatic content recognition. This is a technology that exists in smart TVs that allows the TV itself to recognise what you are watching. This is done by watching or listening to part of what is being viewed, then comparing that to an existing database.
This is controversial because it may be possible for the listening technologies used to pick up other audio. This will then become part of the data that may be sent to a third party for further processing.
How Is The Data Used For Advertising?
This data is used for many different purposes. In most ways, its uses are similar to those of information collected from a laptop or smartphone. For example, data sent to the television manufacturer may be used for troubleshooting or to determine whether the latest firmware update has been installed.
Data is sent back to streaming service, or OTT (over-the-top), providers so they know who is signed into the account and what they were watching. This information may be used to provide show recommendations, simplify billing, or provide better customer service.
Advertisers can use this data for targeted advertising purposes. This includes engaging in cross-device marketing. Here are some data sources and how they may be used by advertisers.
Data collected from smart TVs may reveal specific information about the device used to view content. Advertisers can use this information if they wish to target audiences that are using specific devices with ads that are tailored to their experiences.
When viewers choose to use any sort of browser app or native function to access the internet, that data is collected just as it would be on any other device. This includes information gained from behavioural and contextual tracking and geolocation data.
For example, if a user searched for a product on their smart TV, that data could be used to re target them with an ad for that product in a later internet session.
These services create what are known as walled gardens. They contain information that is provided directly from streaming service providers for the purposes of advertising and audience tracking.
This data is attractive to third parties because of its accuracy. The majority of streaming services require a login. Therefore, it’s much more certain that the data is accurately associated with that user or account.
This is an ideal source of data if you wish to reach viewers who use a particular OTT service. However, while you can target your ads based on this pinpoint-accurate data, those ads also remain within the walled garden of that service. If you want to advertise on other OTT platforms, you must work with each one individually.