Get Smart: Television and Programmatic Advertising in the Internet of Things

Curator's Note

Since 2011, Samsung has coupled its SmartHub platform with Smart TVs (television hardware with integrated internet connectivity). SmartHub provides seamless interaction with social media, personal media files, and applications with varying content and functionality. Similarly, Samsung produces a constellation of digitally-networked Smart household items, including light bulbs, thermostats, and even a refrigerator with an internet-ready touchscreen interface. While Samsung touts SmartHub as a means to "discover more of the TV you love," potential convergence with other Smart products suggests aspects of the televisual experience will extend to everyday consumer goods. As a hub within an Internet of Things (IOT), SmartHub's gateway access will not only pipe televisual content among an increasing array of connected devices; through these devices, television advertisers will obtain access to an increasing frequency and abundance of real-time viewer data. A fruitful example is Hulu's recent venture into programmatic advertising (buying and selling advertising in real-time using algorithmic measures to optimally target audiences). As explained in the video at left, Hulu enriches its audience pool by aggregating data combed from interactions with networked technologies, including preferences for television shows and whether these shows are consumed on devices within or outside the home. This information combines with demographic information, such as age and personal income, to help advertisers more precisely match ads to motivated buyers. Connectivity among SmartHub and Smart technologies entails an increasing array of potential interactions rife for programmatic advertising. Using the Smart refrigerator's interface to digitally catalogue groceries, for example, means Hulu could instantaneously gain insights on dietary habits, brand preferences, and grocery expenditures. Likewise, adjusting a networked thermostat provides information desirable to advertisers whose products help regulate bodily or home temperature (i.e wool socks and space heaters). This situation heightens Mark Andrejevic's conception of the digital enclosure, an "interactive realm wherein every action and transaction generates information about itself," (2) by extending the borderlands of this realm to encompass a profligacy of networked goods. If, as Hulu predicts, programmatic advertising becomes the norm, the digital enclosure of an IOT framework means SmartHub and similar technologies won't merely help you discover more TV; they'll help advertisers discover more of you. WORKS CITED Andrejevic, Mark. iSpy: Surveillance and power in the interactive era. University of Kansas, 2009.


This is a good, careful unpacking of the types of data that will be gleaned from our everyday lives via smart devices. It really raises questions not only of who gets the vital data from our past preferences, but also how they will then go on to shape those preferences (and us) in the future. I've learnt a lot from this post.

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