For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes

from NYTs

While Ellen Milz and her family were watching the Olympics last summer, their TV was watching them.

Ms. Milz, 48, who lives with her husband and three children in Chicago, had agreed to be a panelist for a company called TVision Insights, which monitored her viewing habits — and whether her eyes flicked down to her phone during the commercials, whether she was smiling or frowning — through a device on top of her TV.

“The marketing company said, ‘We’re going to ask you to put this device in your home, connect it to your TV and they’re going to watch you for the Olympics to see how you like it, what sports, your expression, who’s around,’” she said. “And I said, ‘Whatever, I have nothing to hide.’”

Ms. Milz acknowledged that she had initially found the idea odd, but that those qualms had quickly faded.

“It’s out of sight, out of mind,” she said, comparing it to the Nest security cameras in her home. She said she had initially received $60 for participating and an additional $230 after four to six months.

More here.

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22 Responses to For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes

  1. Ryan Appello March 2, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Our viewing habits are clearly a very valuable source of data for marketers. Viewing habits can allow marketers to see what people watch, how they react to it, how long they watch it, and so much more. This information can be used by them to understand what watchers want, so they can gear what they show to what viewers like.

    The device given to Ms. Milz is certainly very interesting. Unlike what Vizio did to its customers, TVision actually gets viewers consent to track their viewing habits and pays them as well. So instead of being a direct invasion of privacy, it is a completely consensual thing. It is clear that advertisers and marketers want this data and if they are willing to do it in a fair, legal way, there isn’t a problem.

    With the information collected from the viewers, advertisers can see what networks and shows people are watching, so they can more efficiently include advertisements into those things. It is incredible how far these companies will go to collect as much data as possible from consumers. They tracked things like heart-rates, facial expressions, and so much more. By getting all of this info, these marketers can completely change the way advertisements work. They can differentiate between different types of audiences. For example, a connected audience who is actively paying attention to what they are watching can be separated from an audience who is barely paying attention by looking at their phone while watching the program. By utilizing this information, they may be able to even gear certain types of advertisements to certain types of people who watch certain types of programs. The effectiveness of advertisements could skyrocket if this data is effectively used. If you’re ever on your computer and use Google Chrome, you will actually see advertisements for products you have searched for and viewed. This can be how TV advertisements work if this information is used, a huge potential prospect for the future.

    The scare of privacy is still entirely in play here, however. If a company doesn’t want to pay a person to track their viewing habits, they can easily do it without paying and without the viewers consent. Just because Vizio got caught doing it doesn’t mean another company won’t try it, possibly on an even bigger scale. I the future, they may even be able to get away with it without even paying the viewers. By just legally tracking them, they wouldn’t even be required to compensate. This is a completely unfair situation. A person’s data is theirs and if someone wants it, they should always have to pay for it. The creation of data selling will certainly be a much larger problem down the line, when it comes up on a much larger scale. Consent to track isn’t enough for it to be okay. People should fight that their habits and their information belongs to them, so they should be compensated if a company wants to take it and make a profit on it. Not paying would be like stealing someone’s car and then selling it for a profit. That doesn’t seem too right. It is clear that there can be a benefit to marketers having this information, however, it must be done correctly and legally to protect the rights of U.S. citizens.

    • Danielle Gangemi September 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

      There are many distractions around viewers that redirect their attention from the television. These viewers’ habits are essential for marketers and the information impacts how these companies need to advertise. Ellen Milz and her family agreed to be a paid panelist for a company called TVision, where her viewing habits during the Olympics would be monitored. TVision keeps track of eye movement and if the viewer is smiling or frowning. In addition, she even wore a fit bit to track her heart rate. TVision has worked with several other companies trying to discover new ways to understand how people watch television advertisements. The chief revenue officer of TVision stated, “What you looked at is interesting, but the fact that you looked away is arguably the most interesting”. Companies spend billions of dollars a year on TV advertisements and are eager to know how much attention they are grabbing. Technology nowadays such as tablets, phones, and computers are a huge distraction from the television. The information captured by TVision is used to help redirect their marketing to the most engaged audiences. This technology can tell what advertisements the viewer is looking at one second and which ones they are distracted from the next second.

      Not only TVision, but also other companies such as Symphony Advanced Media, use measurements on what apps people are using and can even hear what they are watching and where they are watching it with the microphone. Some people of weary of this technology because of privacy issues, however, TVisions technology pays their customers and does not seen to store personal images or videos. Unlike TVision, the company Vizio has to pay over two million dollars to settle charges with selling viewing data from millions of smart TV’s without consent of the owners. These companies are getting attention from the audience, but how much attention and from which target market are they most interested in grabbing that attention?

      The issue of privacy impacts many businesses. The truth is that no one can really be sure that these companies don’t track and store customers personal information. As technology advances and new products are introduced, distractions from the television will only become more popular. Distractions are everywhere around us and new companies such as these will become more prominent to collect marketing information. Since the company Vizio, did not get permission to view data from its users, this company will lose many of its customers. As a business it is important to remain loyal to your loyal customers. People can never be sure on what company is taking their information without consent and it is important to know that customers are truly limited on knowing what privacy they are actually getting. As a customer, if you agree to these types of data collecting companies you need to be aware on what you are agreeing to and what you are not agreeing too. It is important that users are aware of what privacy they are giving up and if they trust the company as a whole.

  2. Garrett Palmeri March 2, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    This is a very interesting article. TVision Insights is a company that analyzes data and sells that data to companies to help decide how to market their brands. TVision does this through a camera that is installed and connected to your TV that tracks just about everything you do. This is not a way for companies to spy on you and gather information without consent. This is program is based off the consent of those who decide they do not mind being watched.

    Ellen Milz and her family allowed TVision to set up a pair of eyes in their living room. TVision tracks just about everything that you do. It can track wear your eyes are directed, if you’re looking at your phone during commercials, or even if you are smiling or frowning. This is incredible technology to be able to track even the smallest of details, but in reality the information being collected is worth much more than you can imagine. Sapna Maheshwari says that information like this can change the way shows are rated. With a tracking service like TVision, smaller shows can outshine bigger name shows. According to Maheshwari, the show “Lucifer” could actually rate higher than “The Big Bang Theory” which is a top rated TV show. Since TVision measure how much you pay attention to a show it was measured that, “[Lucifer] commanded better attention metrics.” What this means is that when people watch “Lucifer”, they are in full attention more often than “The Big Bang Theory.”

    TVision has recruited 2,000 households for market research and it has people wondering about their privacy. Is it possible for TVision to be spying on us? TVision does have an answer. They state that no data such as personal information or images are being stored during this process. Instead of names, people are assigned numbers personally for themselves and their homes. This is huge especially since Vizio is in the process of settling charges for collecting and selling data taken through their smart TVs without the consent of the viewers.

    This technology is remarkable and is going to end up reshaping marketing principles. Instead of focusing on larger audiences, marketers will pinpoint their focus on shows that attract the highest amount of attention given during the show. This will completely revamp the TV show rating system as well and it will be interested to see if this data is used in award shows as well.

  3. George Tannous March 3, 2017 at 4:11 am #

    With all different types of technology such as smart phones, laptops and tablets it is very easy for people to be distracted while watching TV. Especially with commercials and advertisements that tend to be repetitive and boring to watch or even hear. In cases of major advertisement days like the Super Bowl, companies need to be sure they are getting their message across to as many people as possible. They truly have no way of knowing what will work, but with TVision this could change the dynamic of advertising. By getting calculated information on viewing habits, this could work both ways for the company promoting their product or service and the people watching those commercials. Companies will be able to get their product across to a bigger audience and the people watching could view something informative or enjoyable to watch.
    This type of technology will help companies put out commercials that gain the viewers’ attention instead of people zoning out because of boring ads as is common. The way people watch TV has changed drastically over the last 5 years. With Netflix gaining traction and people buying ROKU boxes to watch movies and shows instantly, regular broadcasted shows along with ads have lost significant influence. Now instead of sitting through ads to watch a show, people could watch a full show whenever without any hindrances. While TV’s in homes have increased dramatically, people actually watching cable has without doubt dipped. The Nielsen family method is very outdated and 40,000 people in reality do not represent the entire nation. That is another area where TVision seems to excel in.
    This new innovation of TVision can be abusive to people’s privacy in some ways, but if they agree to it and receive some type of compensation then it would be a fine venture to try out. Personally I value my privacy way too much to sacrifice it for a few bucks. There could even be terms that when one agrees to do this will have deeper implications, such as TVision selling pictures or data of a person to other companies who you never acknowledged originally. I just wonder what type of access they receive and if it is instant whenever they want to view. However, one issue I feel with this product is that the viewer is going to be more on edge and alert than a normal viewer who will tend to zone out or go about their own business. The reactions that the companies will receive is not going to be totally natural, especially with the Xbox Kinect and its bright red lights on while one is sitting and watching TV. The responses are not going to be fully organic, but any large form of data that can possibly correlate to certain commercials or shows gaining more focus and others losing focus would also possibly work. Another concern I have with this is that naturally these days we have short attention spans and can easily be tracked away from the TV even if it is not because what is on is boring or uninteresting. I still feel that there are many consideration this operation is not covering.

  4. Jiaqi Ma March 3, 2017 at 9:59 am #

    With the development of human technology, this is an inevitable phenomenon that old traditional jobs were replaced by new jobs with new technology. It cannot be avoided is some people will lose their jobs. However, based on the principle of economic, we do not need to worry about the people who used to the old traditional model will be starved. The old traditional was broken, as the same time, there is a new opportunity. Now, manufacturing jobs were decreasing. The author, Quincy Larson, argued that there are two main reasons that cause this situation. The first reason is: “American corporations moved all the old manufacturing jobs off-shore to relatively poor countries that still had OK education systems.” American company moved factories to the countries that have cheaper labor, such as China, India, which made United Sate loss many jobs opportunity. However, it is a normal phenomenon. The producer wants to lower cost. The second reason is “technology keeps making individual worker’s much, much, more productive than they ever were before.” We do not need too many workers to produce. We just need a few workers who are not attending production line. Their jobs are making sure that the robots will work normally. We could the second point through a graph. The manufacturing output has grown dramatically. The number of manufacturing employment dropped dramatically in near 2000 years. This situation not only happened in America but also happened around the world. China also was affected by machinery automation. Even in Dongguan(in china) was built a first automated factory, which means they do no need any workers. The robots completely replaced the traditional workers. I still remember that the president of America-Dona Trump said that he want to bring back the labor jobs’ chance that American company has moved to cheaper labor countries. At the beginning, I thought that is a good measure to help the people who are looking for jobs. However, after I read this article. I totally agree with the author said. When the low-skill jobs opportunity back, the government have to provide financial aid to those people who employed by low-skill. Furthermore, there maybe is a worse damage in U.S economy. Larson gave us an example to support this idea, which is America’s steel industry in 2002. American government wanted to save steel workers, at the same time it caused more people lost their jobs. I like the words that said by Wayne Cretzky, he said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” We should not still focus on the past; we should pay more attention to the future. The programmer is becoming popular. Big companies are willing to pay more salary to the programmer. Because of the skill, it worth it. The author offered four steps to help people to suit this new trend. The government should take that part of the money to help the people who used to old traditional model. I agree with that point. Simply bring back manufacturers is useful to improve American economic. We should train more people to adapt the new trend. The disappearance of traditional manufacturing must happen in the future. We should take measure to prepare in advance, which also will help national economic increase. I believe there will be a business war between nation and nation. This is a battle without gunpowder will probably become more severe as time goes on. The nation is the winner that can make change positively and as soon as possible. I am curious about what will happen when there are a sufficient number of people who are programmer. What is the next new job fields of the rise to replace programmer?

    • Jiaqi Ma March 3, 2017 at 10:04 am #

      Sorry, I post in the wrong place. This essay should be on “Those Jobs Are Gone Forever. Let’s Gear Up For What’s Next.” Sorry about this mistake.

  5. Erin Carunchio March 3, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    Marketing is a huge factor in today’s business. To get the public to buy something, you need to market it. It is all about good advertisement. Good advertisement is needed to get the viewer to buy the product. Being able to see consumers viewing habits is a great source for marketers. It allows them to see what shows they do/don’t like. It allows them to see what kinds of shows they do watch. It can tell them what shows get more watched then others. It’s a big advantage to marketers.
    The product by Mrs. Milz, I think, could be very helpful. The one thing I like about this product is that TVision actually asked their customers for permission to view their viewing habits. Unlike, the company Vizio, where they did not ask their customers permission. With TVision, they did not ask permission to their customers to view their viewing habits. So with them, it is ethical to view their customers viewing habits because they have permission. There is a quote said in the article that sums up how they collect data. Maheshwari stated “TVision has recruited 2,000 households, or roughly 7,500 people, in the Boston, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. The company said the information was transmitted without storing images or video and collected anonymously” (Maheshwari 1). This is a good subtle way to collect information from their customers. The overall information that TVision can be helpful with their marketing. It will help with seeing what Television shows or channels are most popular. It tells the company what shows are getting viewed more so that they can show that show more and show less of the shows that are not as viewed as often.

  6. Jevon Mitchell March 3, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    The fact that the viewing patterns and different consumer habits are such valuable assets and sets of data to marketers and major corporations is extremely dangerous. What this opens the door for is secrecy and sneakiness, as there is a large amount of money to be made off of the selling of this data. What reading this article has done is open my eyes to the possible shadiness of these mass media companies that could access your viewing habits. There have been plenty of situations where various tech companies were caught collecting consumer habit data without the knowledge of the consumer then turning around and selling this data to marketing companies.
    One of the most recent examples of this was with Vizio Televisions. Their smart TVs were found to contain built in data collection software which allowed the television company to gather the streaming, browsing, and viewing data of nearly each of its consumers. Although the data collected was not necessarily sensitive, nor could it be tied back to an individual person due to its non-identifiable set up this act was still used to illegally collect data without having the user sign any kind of agreement or even being warned or given the right to know that their data was being collected.
    Now that this has made its way to the public eye, and vast amounts of people are outraged, Vizio has settled out of court and attempting to avoid any possible lawsuits. Their settlement consisted of a $2.2 million fine which was to be paid to the Federal Trade Commission of New Jersey in order to settle the charges brought up against them. Vizio now must disclose and receive consent before any of its data collecting or sharing. Also, all of the data that was collected before March 2, 2016 must be deleted from the files of the company.
    What this article made me realize is how lucrative this business actually is. It makes perfect sense that such a company would not want to tell you that they are collecting your viewing patterns or other consumer habits because then they would have to pay you, which would then be cutting into their profits. With all moral obligations set aside, if you could secretly collect information about consumers, that does not put users at risk of their personal information being leaked, why would you come out of pocket to pay them to do the exact same thing? Then individual mentioned in the article, Ellen Milz agreed to be a panelist for TVision Insights, what this basically means is that she has voluntarily allowed for this company to view, monitor, and analyze her families viewing habits. For simply participating in the study Ms. Milz received a $60 paycheck. After the next four to six months she then received another check for $230. As you can see, the fees that are associated with fairly compensating the users whose viewing patterns are being analyzed are actually pretty high, in comparison to no fees at all. This raises the issue of the moral obligation that these companies owe to society and how much this market of consumer habit data is really worth.

  7. Matthew Radman March 17, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

    The type of marketing seems like a creepy form of guerilla advertising that invades the privacy of people; the people involved must be crazy. However, Ellen Milz is just aware of the surveillance already in her life. TVision provides invaluable information to networks to see how real consumers are interacting with their content. The new form of marketing is interesting and odd. Television is an industry changing in many significant ways; during the transformation, it is important to be able to track consumer behavior. As the article mentions, people’s viewing habits are changing at a rapid pace, television companies must be able to keep up, and the granular information provided by TVision is an excellent method for that. This technology allows companies to see if people are looking at the screen or not. The difference between a consumer actively and passively watching largely affects the value of advertisements which is a primary channels source of revenue.Although seemingly invasive, this type of advertising data is not much more so than the targeted ads produced by Google and Facebook. In a digital world going through an era of “salience advertising.”
    Apparently many people do not find TVision’s tactics to be too creepy as they have amassed over 40,000 panelists. The technology lends transparency to the misleading TV rating statistics. Many people have experienced passively viewing the television. This type of interaction is implied not valuable to advertisers. TVision, if it finds that people are engaged, can allow networks to charge more for ads, if it does not have a good rating, it can adjust its content.
    Although they do not use a Kinect camera to film participants, internet giants Google and Facebook, as well as other large firms, participate in surveillance advertising. They use the vast databases that they have on consumers to direct targeted ads to customers. Often, customers are not entirely aware of the extent to which their data is collected and used. That information makes technology advertising companies billions of dollars just as TVision’s data can make TV networks billions of more dollars.
    Targeted advertising is a tricky two-way street. Often, people prefer advertising to be personalized to them as opposed to a cookie cutter ad. Another benefit is that services such as Google and Facebook remain free to use because of the valuable data that they collect. With a changing TV and media industry, it is important as ever to understand how consumers are consuming. Targeted advertising ultimately allows networks to cater ads to their real users and marketers can be compensated proportionally to the engagement which they offer to customers. This type of advertising is the future of advertising and to ignore the good that can potentially come, would do the technology a disservice. The consenting panelists are involving themselves directly in a new wave of specialty advertising and will make the changing media industry more adaptive and more understanding of consumers real desire and cater their content to engage them more effectivley.

  8. Matthew Radman March 17, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

    Ths type of marketing seems like a creepy form of guerilla advertising that invades the privacy of people; the people involved must be crazy. However, Ellen Milz is just aware of the surveillance already in her life. TVision provides invaluable information to networks to see how real consumers are interacting with their content. The new form of marketing is interesting and odd. Television is an industry changing in many significant ways; during the transformation, it is important to be able to track consumer behavior. As the article mentions, people’s viewing habits are changing at a rapid pace, television companies must be able to keep up, and the granular information provided by TVision is an excellent method for that. This technology allows companies to see if people are looking at the screen or not. The difference between a consumer actively and passively watching largely affects the value of advertisements which is a primary channels source of revenue.Although seemingly invasive, this type of advertising data is not much more so than the targeted ads produced by Google and Facebook. In a digital world going through an era of “salience advertising.”
    Apparently many people do not find TVision’s tactics to be too creepy as they have amassed over 40,000 panelists. The technology lends transparency to the misleading TV rating statistics. Many people have experienced passively viewing the television. This type of interaction is implied not valuable to advertisers. TVision, if it finds that people are engaged, can allow networks to charge more for ads, if it does not have a good rating, it can adjust its content.
    Although they do not use a Kinect camera to film participants, internet giants Google and Facebook, as well as other large firms, participate in surveillance advertising. They use the vast databases that they have on consumers to direct targeted ads to customers. Often, customers are not entirely aware of the extent to which their data is collected and used. That information makes technology advertising companies billions of dollars just as TVision’s data can make TV networks billions of more dollars.
    Targeted advertising is a tricky two-way street. Often, people prefer advertising to be personalized to them as opposed to a cookie cutter ad. Another benefit is that services such as Google and Facebook remain free to use because of the valuable data that they collect. With a changing TV and media industry, it is important as ever to understand how consumers are consuming. Targeted advertising ultimately allows networks to cater ads to their real users and marketers can be compensated proportionally to the engagement which they offer to customers. This type of advertising is the future of advertising and to ignore the good that can potentially come, would do the technology a disservice. The consenting panelists are involving themselves directly in a new wave of specialty advertising and will make the changing media industry more adaptive and more understanding of consumers real desire and cater their content to engage them more effectivley.

  9. Thomas Batelli March 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    I thought this article was extremely interesting, while also a little bit frightening. I think this provoked many of the questions that we’ve all wanted to ask- what else are people able to view us from? I remember, some time back when the Xbox One first debuted. Everyone was so excited to get this new gaming system. However, the Xbox One was a short-lived trend due to the chatter going around about the camera on the device. Essentially, the way the Xbox One works is on a system that follows you in front of the television screen, very similar to the Nintendo Wii. However, with this specific system, it is not a matter of turning the device off to disconnect the camera. This updated system actually acts to turn on and follow your movements as you entered a room. This was a game changer for many people, including myself. Once you start pondering about this subject, you will grow more and more disturbed about the truth that just perfectly remains outside our realm of understanding.

    Situations like these have been occurring for some time. For the longest time, people were ripping stickers off the batteries of their LG phones claiming that they were “tracking devices”. Now that many of us have phones that do not have batteries, we are faced with an interesting scenario. Not long ago, there was also a memo going around to the public about the “Location Services” option on the iPhone. It turned out, when the iPhone was purchased and then set up; there was an option to enable location services. Turning it on is an obvious answer to many, therefor providing them with better connectivity and more accurate results on their Google search, location pinpoints and for tagging purposes on social media websites. However, it turns out that location services is actually able to tell exactly where you are, at all times, as long as it is on. It also keeps a history of where you have been, as well. Lack of privacy and too much information; you can say we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

    Situations like these will continue to keep “popping up”, as technology continues to advance. On a serious note, though, are we falling victims to the system by lacking the education of truly understanding the capabilities of the devices that we use everyday? Or are we unwillingly sacrificing our true freedom, by constantly being on the radar? Just as Ellen Milz mentioned in the article, “It’s out of sight, out of mind”, meaning that if you aren’t looking for it, you wont find it and you probably won’t know about it. At the end of the day, we’re just not as smart as we claim we are. The scariest part about it all, especially as smart TVs continue to grow to be nearly the only television set option, is asking yourself if the camera is for our purpose, or theirs….

  10. Hakim Felder March 24, 2017 at 12:42 am #

    Before reading this article when I think of tv I think of all the lies that come with. Tv is short for television. Most of the shows on tv lies about many things in order to consume the viewers’ attention. With some many shows and channels, being hosted on Tv at different time attracts different types of viewers. More mature shows may attract the adult audience. Reality tv may be interesting to the early to late teens. Shows like Dora and go Diego go are there to attract a very young audience. The best tv shows are the ones that can attract all of the audiences as a whole.
    This the article is very disturbing why would they need to watch me through the tv. Nobody likes a peeping tom. Especially if people are doing inappropriate things, they would be able to see everything that is going. This will lead to all sorts of privacy problems. We already know how bad Facebook is with their privacy problems. Once you accept the terms and agreements with all of your information is accessible to those who are monitoring you behind the screen. This is known as a click- wrap agreement, which is a form of unilateral That is why people are not using Facebook as much because the worry about who is viewing what you are posting there on a daily basis.
    One thing that was interesting to me was when they were talking about the Microsoft Kinect. These are systems, similar to the Wii, allowing you to control the game you are playing with out the use of a controller. In this situation, you are using certain bodily jester involving your whole body. It syas from the article that the Kinect track the movement of people’s eyes in relation to the television. The device sensors could record one-minute shifts for all people in the room. The company then matches those viewing patterns to shows and commercials using technology that listens to what is being broadcasted on the TV. Dan Shiifman, who was the chief revenue officer TVision (pronounced Tee-Vision) “What you looked at is interesting, but the fact that you looked away is arguably the most interesting” This information from the article makes me look at TV’s now in a weird I cannot really trust them at all. I understand you cant trust technology at all but television is an important factor in today’s society. It keeps people aware of all the trending and upcoming topics that take part in life. How one decision can affect a certain person or minorities. All at the same time bring entertainment when boredom strikes.
    What I found out about this article is that Vizio would pay 2.2 million to settle the charges that it had been collecting and selling viewing data from millions of smart tvs without the knowledge or consent of the set’s owners. Their reasons for this was that they wanted to see what-what the people were doing behind the tvs. They had a spark of curiosity.

  11. Thomas Dellisanti March 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    In a world where technology is invading many part of our lives, this new technology offered by TVision is definitely an interesting opportunity when monitoring people’s TV viewing habits. Billions of dollars are spent across all TV programs, but companies are not sure if their audiences are being fully engaged throughout the program. In the past 10 years, people have become increasingly more involved with using their smartphones or tablets during the parts of the TV programs that are not the most interesting. With billions of dollars being spent on trying to entertain audiences, it is extremely important for companies to know what parts of the programs are not interesting enough to keep the audience’s attention. There are many alternatives to watching live TV, many of which include browsing social media sites and playing games. If a TV show is not very interesting, audiences will tend to be distracted by their phones until something more interesting happens. Admittedly, I am guilty of doing this. Almost every time there is a commercial break or when nothing is happening, I find myself looking at my phone. I can fully understand why companies would be worried about what programs are uninteresting to audiences because such a large amount of money going to these TV shows would be very wasteful.

    This approach to monitoring people’s viewing habits is definitely much better and more ethical compared to Vizio’s approach, who monitored viewers through a camera in their smart TVs without their consent. Having a serious issue such as monitoring people watching TV requires full consent for viewers that agree to be monitored. Vizio viewed almost all people that owned their smart TV, but TVision only agreed to monitor several thousand people. Vizio might think that monitoring more people would lead to better results, but it is far from ethical. TVision might be viewing numbers comparatively smaller to Vizio, but a more ethical and advanced approach to monitoring viewing habits makes their approach more successful.

    Personally, I would not be comfortable with putting these cameras to let companies monitor my viewing habits. Even though it would be beneficial for them, I would feel that it is pretty invasive on my privacy. If I put the cameras on my TV, I probably could not enjoy watching TV as much as I do now because I could not get over the fact that someone else is watching me watch TV. For me, TV is not that important where I would feel the need to be monitored in order to improve the boring or uninteresting parts of TV programs. I would not be consenting to this plan, but since there are millions of people in the United States, it would be easy to find more people that are willing to be monitored, such as Ellen Milz. If more people are willing to participate in being monitored, it would be extremely beneficial to all TV companies, and in the near future, we might see very significant changes in how we all view TV. However, privacy should be people’s main concern, and changes in TV are not a big deal compared to someone’s own privacy.

  12. Isaiah Allen March 24, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

    Consumer behavior is something that more companies are starting to focus on in today’s society, because of the plethora of resources that tech companies have at their exposure. When a company has a firm understanding about how their customers are responding to their products or services, it helps them accurately satisfy the needs of their customers. In her article, Sapna Maheshwari describes how new technology is allowing companies to gage how their advertisements are received by viewers, and how they impact their behavior. When companies put their advertisements on television, they are aiming to capture the attention of their audience, in order to bring awareness to their product or service. This goal is harder for them to achieve than ever before due to all of the “distractions” that technology presents us with. New technology has given companies the ability to recognize their advertisements through audio tags, and then detect how a viewer is behaving throughout the advertisement. It is harder to capture our attention nowadays because whenever we are bored we turn to a form of technology or social media. Companies need to make sure that their advertisements are being watched by an engaged audience, and there are a number factors that play into that. As Maheshwari mentioned, a company like TVision now can determine whether a viewer’s “eyes flicked down to their phone” during a commercial. This is all thanks to the installation of a Microsoft Kinect device, which I found especially interesting.
    I have an Xbox Kinect so I was already familiar with its capabilities of recording body shifts, and making out faces. However never did I ever imagine that the same technology could be used by companies to detect human behaviors during commercials and shows. If a company can determine what shows and networks draw the most engaged viewers, than they can establish a target market where they can display their content. The reason Super Bowl advertisements cost so much is because of the amount of viewers they are guaranteed to get. They know that everyone’s eyes will be glued to the TV, so they want to take that opportunity to make themselves known. How we behave after we see a commercial is based solely off of how it made us feel. If it intrigued us we may look further into the product or service, and if it didn’t we will not. If a company recognizes that their advertisements are making their audience behave a certain way, than they can experiment with it to see what exactly is making them behave that way. This technology will allow companies design their advertisements in ways that engage their viewers. If a company can determine that people leave the room when their advertisements are on television, than they will know that they did not appeal to the audience. The overall impact of the new technology will be determined by how well companies are able to appeal to an engaged audience, and keep them engaged.
    The article also referenced a company called Symphony Advanced Media, which has an Android app that tracks how people use their phones and can determine the location of where they are using it. This is what may cause people to be skeptical about the amount of privacy they have. The author also mentioned that Vizio was previously in hot water because they were collecting viewer data from their televisions without permission. This emphasizes the fact that collecting data unknowingly is considered illegal and unethical and is something that businesses need to look out for.

  13. Sirina Natarajan March 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    It is a well-known fact that advertising companies just want to know what will make people want to buy the products they market, but where do they draw the line? I can tell you it should be about a hundred steps back from TVision Insight’s idea to actually watch and decipher the body language of people who watch TV. This extremely invasive technology is described in this article as if it is the next best thing for the consumer when, in reality, it is the one thing effectively destroying all sense of privacy in a person’s home. The company claims the goal of the device is to determine what the viewer likes watching and how often they get distracted by other things, but it means your TV is watching your every move! I know that it would be beneficial for advertising companies, but can they not get the information they need from focus groups and a less probing research method? I do not think this is the best course of action and I know consumers would not be okay with any of it. Take the Vizio case for example; no one was happy when they sold their user’s information to third parties. One could argue the mistake they made was not telling the users, but the root of the problem is that they were giving away personal information and users found it to be invasive.
    Advertising companies will always argue that by collecting data about separate users, they will be able to provide advertisements that are more relevant to the user. However, it does not change the fact that our information is being sold to companies so they can manipulate consumers so their product will be bought more often. I do not think people truly realize how invasive this type of technology is. The article makes this process seem a lot less intrusive than it actually is. This article reminds me a lot of targeted advertising in the sense that the data collected will be used to make advertisements more interesting to the consumer. I think advertising companies forget the real reason why people do not watch commercials which is that they do not want to watch something that has nothing to do with the program they were originally watching. Personally, I go onto my phone during a commercial break or lull in a TV show because it loses my interest. I find the apps on my phone to be more interesting than the TV and it does not mean I do not like what is on the screen, but actually that I think something on my phone would be better. Besides, the fact of the matter is conventional TV is dead. With streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, commercials are not used and the user is able to watch through the show without any interruption. If a consumer wants to watch TV in real time, there are hundreds of streaming services online that offer commercial-free options. People just do not want to watch commercials nad no personalized advertisements will ever change that.

  14. Christian Cox March 24, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    With all the wondrous advancements that have been made in technology there tends to always be negatives as well. The area that normally tends to be privacy makes everyone’s private lives quite the opposite of private. Every time a new technology there always seems to be an improvement in surveillance that reduces user privacy. We as Americans used to find television to be captivating, but the viewers today are very distracted. They are distracted because of all the distractions of their smartphones. Television viewers are diverting their attention while watching television nowadays and they viewers are most distracted while there is a commercial. This is a big problem for advertisers who profit off of the attention of ad viewers. So to combat this issue the Tvision Insight company analyzes and sells data to companies to help with marketing and branding. They do this by analyzing the viewer through a camera that tracks everything you do. The scariest part about this is that they do not require your consent while they spy on your every move. This should be infuriating to all television watchers, the reality of losing all privacy in your own home should be troubling to all. Tvision has recruited over two thousand households for market research. Viewing patterns and consumer habits are incredibly valuable assets to marketers and major corporations, however, this does not mean we should surrender our privacy. We should not have to invade privacy to know that more people are focused watching a drama rather than a sitcom. There are many ethical reasons to show that Tvision acts immorally and should stop its invasion of privacy. So what good comes of their analysis. Knowing how two thousand different homes watched tv differently and had different watching habits. This information does not seem nearly as crucial as personal privacy. Marketers should be happy that they could gather this information while they could. It is a shame that they were able to profit off of unsuspecting Americans. They were so willing because they wanted some of the billions of dollars spent in marketing. Companies spend over sixty nine billion dollars a year on tv ads in the United States of America. It is clear of the obvious incentive that Tvision wanted to be a part of the action. What will be the next personal privacy issue be for these marketing goons? What is the next tactic that the Tvisions of the world have in store? How is marketing going to deal with audience that always multitasks? Should we be worried about our phone screens being monitored next? At what point do we stop marketing from doing this and reprimand companies that seek to exploit the desires of humans? I believe that this issue is larger than just television I feel its weight is growing and it is clear that companies condone any activity that they can benefit and profit from. Ultimately, this issue deals with the big guy bullying the little guys. This is not okay and as a society we need to be all oppose this behavior firmly.

  15. John Zarro March 31, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

    This article by Sapna Maheshwari titled “For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes” is very interesting. The story of Ellen Milz and her family being “watched” by her family is very creepy. Milz who is 48 agreed to be a panelist for a company called TVision Insights. The contract resulted in TVision Insights, “monitored her viewing habits — and whether her eyes flicked down to her phone during the commercials, whether she was smiling or frowning— through a device on top of her TV.” The confusion lies when the company said, “We’re going to ask you to put this device in your home, connect it to your TV and they’re going to watch you for the Olympics to see how you like it, what sports, your expression, who’s around.” Milz agreed because she was making around $300 and said she would forget that the cameras were even around.”

    Dan Schiffman says that, “The big thing for TV advertisers and the networks is: Are you actually looking at the screen or not?” He then says, “What you looked at is interesting, but the fact that you looked away is arguably the most interesting.” I find this true and interesting because the norm is to watch the TV, but the key is to realize the times when people aren’t looking so we can figure out a way to make them look. Some statistics that I fond fascinating was that companies and businesses’ spend about $69 billion a year on TV ads in the United States alone. What is also very important is that Masheshwari conveys the view that the information gathered by TVision is just as valuable as the money spent on the television ads. She then says, “TVision can help advertisers steer marketing toward shows with the most engaged audiences, not just the largest ones. And for networks, it could make a show with a committed and loyal audience as valuable as one that attracts a larger but more casual set of viewers.” Other ways of viewing peoples activity was through their phones. Android users can make 5-12 dollars a month by letting the company track what they do. I found this intriguing because people will do it to make money but others will fight it trying to obtain their privacy at all costs. However, this can be very dangerous because if someone hacks Android, they can back track into bank accounts and cause serious damage to multiple platforms. I would never reveal or give away anything secure and for my eyes only for only a minimal amount of money.

    Ratings companies are around just to record data. The article proclaims that the aim “understands what is the media day and the life of the consumer today.” What surprised me is that national powerhouses like The Weather Channel values this information to gain an edge over other weather channels because it apparently showed its audience as “lean forward, lean-in viewers,” stated by Indira Venkat who overseas research at the channel.

    By reading, this article by Sapna Maheshwari titled “For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes” opened my eyes to the industry of recording information from everyday people. I knew this was common, but did not know the industries spent hundreds of millions even billions in research and recording. I will not participate in giving out my information, but people who are desperate for information should be interested in participating.

  16. Anthony Laverde April 25, 2017 at 11:40 am #

    Believe it or not, I was first introduced to the methods used by the Nielsen company to acquire valuable viewing habits data from regular people by an episode of Family Guy. Obviously, they made fun of the entire process, but their facts and statements were very correct. The episode showed Peter Griffin receiving a Nielsen box and being told he was chosen to be a contributor randomly. He is quickly educated on the fact that Nielsen does this in order to get statistics on what people are watching, and what people have no interest in. Although this method is becoming quickly outdated, it was an extremely smart idea in the past. Peter then realizes he has influential power as to what programs are funded and which are cancelled on television. He steals over a dozen more machines and grows his influence; he then intentionally supports his favorite shows, and boycotts shows he has a problem with for personal reasons (unrelated to the show’s quality itself). The episode was actually an extremely intelligent take on the process, and made the concept more easily accessible to the viewers who, like myself, were unaware that this is a common method used by not only Nielsen, but various other agencies in the television and advertisement industries. A clip from the episode can be viewed in the link below:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr6TbhTk7AE

    The main problem with this method, which was highlighted in the episode, was that it cannot prevent individual influences and biases to be eliminated from the situation. Many people, like Peter, can decide to boycott any show for literally any reason whatsoever. They are also going to show extreme preference towards their personal shows. I understand that that is part of the point, but there is too many variables that cannot be controlled, and many of the opinions are subjective rather than objective.

    The article alluded to this next argument, and that is that televisions are becoming increasingly less and less used. Streaming is the new way people view shows and other forms of entertainment. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and ITunes have stolen the market, and changed the way people watch television. This has also distorted when the best times for shows to air is, because with all of these selections being available at our request, shows can be viewed at fluctuating times, whenever it is most convenient for any specific person. This also means that actual televisions are also being used less and less. Connectivity is easier than ever, and these streaming platforms can be accessed on places beyond televisions, like tablets, and laptops. The article alludes to a company creating an app that monitors viewership habits when using streaming services in the background, and this is an amazing idea. This is no doubt the future, and it allows all of america to influence what shows are supported, rather than just a select few people. This will show a more accurate representation of viewer opinions. App development is the immediate future; however the distant future could see a potential partnership between an agency and Apple to have software installed in their products that automatically keeps track of viewership habits? Food for thought.

  17. Julian Manzano April 28, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

    In a world that is completely connected to technology, there is always a sense of being watched and monitored with all these “smart” devices people have. This phenomenon is called “Big Brother,” which is the idea that someone (mostly the government) is watching you through cameras or other devices that we all use. With more and more devices that obtain and store this information becoming available, it is likely that we all have been, or might be, a victim of this “big brother” idea. Things like Smart TVs, laptops, and smartphones collect data from its users, and we might not think anything of it, but what does the data say and who sees it? Is it potentially dangerous?
    Companies value data, it is how they know what their users like and it gives them feedback on what they can improve and change. On a smart TV for example, a company will obtain data by tracking your viewing habits and how you view content to cater to you to improve your experience. The problem with this is that companies, like Vizio, have been caught selling their user data to third parties. This was done without telling the user and second by second viewing data, along with other personal information, was sold to third parties. This led a lawsuit by the US Federal Trade Commission, and Vizio ended up paying $1.5 million to the US Federal Trade Commission and $700,000 to the New Jersey Division of Consumer affairs. Along with this, Vizio had to delete all of the data they collected.
    An issue like this is a huge, especially when people are having their privacy invaded in their own home. This is now becoming a serious topic of discussion because how do we know other devices we use are not doing this, or maybe even doing worse things with our data? Because of all of the technology that a device has, it is able to collect data and store it, and possibly send it to the company that made the device and then they do whatever they want with that data. It is impossible for us to know exactly what they collect and if they use it for the wrong reasons and that is scary. Companies have to be more transparent with their customers to ensure them their data is not being tracked constantly, and more importantly, it is not being sold to third parties.
    Unless you are very good with technology and you know exactly how the device works, it is hard to know whether a device you use every day tracks everything you do. Collecting and giving away sensitive consumer data is not right, and something like this cannot happen again. I do not see much of an issue with tracking certain data to make the experience more user friendly, but to collect personal data and information and give it away to other companies is not only legally wrong, but also morally wrong. I think something like this will eventually happen again, I just hope this does not become a common issue.

  18. Jeremy Daniels September 29, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Marketing tactics are constantly changing, so it only makes sense that new marketing research techniques like this are beginning to appear. As our viewing habits change, companies and networks are essentially playing catch-up, trying to figure out how to retain/gain more viewers. With old technologies not providing key information on viewers, these new methods are crucial to the future of marketing.
    I’m genuinely surprised that at this point in time there have not been any new lawsuits involving these upcoming marketing companies, aside from Vizio. In order to understand the actions of all viewers in front of the television, notice when they look away, and what expressions they have, this technology must have some top of the line facial recognition and processing power. Even if it is taking in all this information in real-time, I have a hard time believing it deletes any video and audio it takes after the fact. It must store at least a portion of it, in case the system malfunctions. It just seems odd that only Vizio, a well-known internet-connection television company, would be the only ones that attempted to cash in on this particular market.
    Based on this information and from my own background knowledge, it will be interesting to see in the years to come how much more popular this will become. I completely agree with the fact that Nielson is outdated. The information it collects, from a marketers perspective, help with advertising in this day and age. I’ve left the television on at home more times than I can count, whatever was on the screen was irrelevant to me. Having a larger panel of households doesn’t make the rating matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if companies like TVision replaced Nielson in the future.

  19. Katie Marchesani September 29, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

    With the changing technological environment, marketers have had to find ways to stay relevant and develop new ideas to reach consumers. Companies spend large amounts of money marketing their products and services. Therefore, they want to ensure audiences are viewing their advertisements and commercials. Many companies relied heavily on playing commercials on TV’s, but electronic devices and streaming services have created an obstacle for marketers. TV ads are not being watched as they once were. People are shifting their attention to their phones when a break comes on. Also, being able to record shows has allowed people to skip entirely through commercials. Streaming services including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are continually growing and gaining new users. Users pay for these services and are able to stream shows/movies commercial free. This has created a trickery landscape for marketers to navigate through.

    The social era has greatly impacted the way marketers advertise products and services. Social media opened up doors in the marketing industry. With people moving their focus onto their phones and scrolling through social media apps during breaks, advertisers had to adapt. Social media companies saw an opening to increase profits by offering advertisement space to businesses and acted on it. Companies including Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat have millions of users and therefore can reach a large audience. Also, these apps are able to collect data from individual user’s profiles and market based on their interests. For example, Instagram has an “advertising targeting features based on user interests, age, gender and demographic, using the photos they take as well as integration with Facebook’s behavioral ad profiling” (Gibbs). This feature allows businesses to really reach their target market. The ads are geared towards the individual and relate to their interests. Whereas, a TV ad can only market based on the type of channel it is played on. Commercials market towards a broader group, while social media ads are more targeted. As technology continues to advance, marketers will have to use new strategies to stay in the game.

    Gibbs, Samuel. “Your Instagram feed is about to be invaded by more ads.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 June 2015,
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/03/instagram-ads-adverts-facebook-photos

  20. Allegra D October 3, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

    Marketing and advertising has changed substantially because of the changes in how people watch television. Families would gather around the television and watch their favorite shows.
    Commercials between television shows was the ideal place to put advertisements. People would be updated on the news, new products and services, and be entertained. From the excitement of the television being the main source of information, everyone was engaged during the commercials and not multitasking. From the advances in technology and multiple sources demanding our attention, people are distracted when commercials air and do not stay connected to them.

    There are many ways people avoid commercials today, switching channels and fast forwarding through commercials are two examples. People can also be distracted by their phone when the commercials start. The biggest change in how people watch television is the popularity of streaming sites that has no commercials at all or allowing people to pay for a premium version of the site so that they do not have to listen to or watch commercials. With all of these distractions and ways to avoid commercials, marketers and advertisers have had to improvise and come up with new ways to reach their audience.

    TVision Insights is a marketing company that puts readers on television sets, phones, tablets, and other computers to study how customers interact with websites and view advertisements. I believe this new method to study consumer behavior is a great innovative way to figure out how to fill the commercial void. Although they are able to watch their participants reactions and facial expressions to different commercials and ads, they also compensate them. These people agree to being watched, so they are aware of the privacy barriers. Other companies should adopt this type of research or pay them to get data on their company because it is essential to get advertisement to people who are distracted and not paying attention to ads today.

    I agree with fellow blogger Jevon M that this is a very lucrative business and it is possible that companies have tried to collect this kind of data without telling individuals. That would be unethical and illegal if a business did that. It is also something to be aware of because privacy is a huge topic in the news lately. Companies, like TVision, need to make sure they have strict policies and follow the laws.

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