Almost 90% of people opt to let smart TVs track their viewing, report says

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Samba told the New York Times that it’s being transparent about the data collection on smart TVs. (iStock/AndreyPopov)

In the wake of this year’s Facebook user data scandal, protecting consumers from undue data collection is a hot topic. Surprisingly, many smart TV users are willingly giving up their viewing data.

According to the New York Times, at least one TV data and analytics firm is seeing lots of smart TV users opt in. An executive at Samba TV said that at the end of 2016, more than 90% of people had opted into the company’s Samba Interactive TV service. The service tracks everything on the users’ TV screen, from network shows and premium channels like HBO and Netflix to video games and even conservative- versus liberal-leaning news viewership.

Samba then sells marketers the ability to target ads using the information gleaned from smart TVs, which includes data about other devices in the home that are using the same internet connection at the smart TV.

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Samba told the publication that it’s being transparent about the data collection on smart TVs.

“Each version has clearly identified that we use technology to recognize what’s onscreen, to create benefit for the consumer as well as Samba, its partners and advertisers,” a Samba spokesperson told the publication.

As the report points out, smart TVs are a growing segment in the U.S. About 45% of U.S. households had a smart TV at the end of 2017, according to IHS. And Samba TV is competing with other firms including Vizio’s Inscape to harvest smart TV data and package it as targeted ad offerings for marketers.

When Samba TV earlier this year launched its programmatic television ad buying platform, it pitched the importance of precise data for reaching audiences.

“Reach and frequency are KPIs at the center of every TV ad campaign; however, shrinking audiences, the proliferation of streaming video, and the availability of DVRs in most TV households has enabled the irreversible erosion of linear TV reach,” said Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Samba TV, in a statement. “Without using precise TV data to complete the picture of today’s modern viewer, marketers are facing a ‘viewer insights gap.’ More than 400 of the world’s largest advertisers have turned to Samba’s leading Sync + Retarget solution to connect with these ‘unreachables’ and now, with the launch of the Samba TV Audience Platform, we have made TV audiences even more accessible to marketers than ever before.”