Does Addressable TV Take Personalization Too Far?

Is your television watching you? The advent of addressable tv might lead to individually targeted advertisements in our living rooms.

Targeted messaging is not only appreciated but nowadays customers have come to expect it. As marketers get savvier and have more data to work with, they are making sure that their messages resonate with their target audience as much as possible.But is there a thin line between being relevant and being creepy? Target experienced this first hand in 2012 when news broke that the company's algorithm predicted that a teenager was pregnant even before her parents knew she was expecting a child--and started sending her maternity deals in the mail.

Now there are indications that individually targeted messages could be entering our living rooms through our television sets. Perhaps it's not surprising that in this era of technology, we're approaching the age when addressable television, which allows advertisers to pay broadcasters to deliver messages to specific homes, becomes a reality.

As this article explains, this emerging technology goes beyond the previous demographic segmentation models, providing a way for advertisers to stop wasting money on the wrong eyeballs and instead connect only with their target audience. "If you know who you want to talk to and what you want to say, you can be much more precise," Chauncey McLean, chief operating officer at Analytics Media Group, is quoted saying. Andrew Bleeker, president and CEO of Bully Pulipt Interactive, describes it as "a shift from identifying groups to identifying people."

To an extent, we've become used to very targeted advertising, especially in an e-commerce setting, where organizations have been keeping copious notes of customers' online buying journey and making recommendations based on this data. Not only are customers not creeped out by this tactic, but as 1to1 Media notes in this article, they expect the same treatment from physical stores.

But would customers be amenable to have the same adverts delivered through their television screens? Is there a difference between targeted messages delivered online and over TV? It looks like we might soon have some examples since DirectTV and Dish Network have signed a partnership to allow politicians to reach out to individual clients by matching their identities with their satellite receiver. Further, The Huffington Post article continues that "NBC and parent company Comcast are opening the door for advertisers to target specific households using video-on-demand services" although they're not yet ready for implementation during live broadcasts.

Whether this type of marketing will gain traction remains to be seen. But one thing is certain--organizations need to be careful not to cross the line into Big Brotherish behavior. Here are some tips to stop this from happening.