Congress put cable TV operators on notice that it will scrutinize their plans to roll out targeted advertising to viewers, questioning whether they will use set-top boxes sitting in millions of homes to monitor and store what people watch.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress put cable TV operators on notice that it will scrutinize their plans to roll out targeted advertising to viewers, questioning whether they will use set-top boxes sitting in millions of homes to monitor and store what people watch.
As part of a broader discussion Thursday over Internet privacy issues, lawmakers at the House subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet brought up cable’s newest advertising endeavor called Canoe Ventures. They asked whether, and to what degree, set-top box data will be used to send targeted ads to viewers. That would mean, for instance, that pet food commercials are routed to households likely to have pets, based on a tendency to watch TV shows about animals.The questions come even before Canoe, which was formed by the nation’s six largest cable TV operators last year, has launched its first targeted advertisement.
Canoe has no current plans to use data collected by set-top boxes, said Kyle McSlarrow, chief executive of the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn., who spoke at the hearing.
If cable companies use set-top box data in the future for targeted advertising, McSlarrow said, they will have to comply with existing cable laws protecting private consumer information.
“They’re very conscious of the privacy implications of what they do,” he said.
Canoe has two advertising products in the works. One uses demographic data, such as age and income, to send relevant ads to customers starting this summer. The other, slated for later this year, would involve interactive ads, such as a button that pops up during a car commercial for viewers to click on with their remote control to get more information.
McSlarrow said the latter has a “built-in opt-in” system. Viewers would have to click on the button before information would be sent to them using the address on file with the cable company.