Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Marketer’s Dream, Privacy Wonk’s Nightmare: IPTV Coming Soon…ish
I read with interest an article titled “The End of TV as We Know It,” by Frank Rose in the December 2004 issue of Wired Magazine. He talks about IPTV – TV over Internet Protocol — as poised to be the next big thing. No mere jerky video over the Internet, but totally on-demand TV at broadband speeds on private networks engineered for reliable video delivery. He talks about Hi-def TV, high-speed broadband and even caller ID on your TV (I’m not quite sure what that means). But here’s the part of most interest to this blog — the system will supposedly be able to track viewing habits “as effectively as Amazon tracks its customers,” so ads will be incredibly personalized and targeted with military precision. If you’ve seen Minority Report in which ubiquitous retina scanners immediately ID passersby and serve up ad messages based on their interests, past buying behavior, etc., that’s what I imagine this could become — all served up in the comfort of your own home.
As a marketer I love the idea of being able to know if my intended target audience is watching my ad, perhaps it’ll even be able to tell me the ages of those in the room, or if they are multi-tasking at the computer while watching (like I often do), or when they get up and leave — there’s a wealth of potential real-time demographic and psychographic information to be found there to improve the effectiveness of future marketing initiatives. Perhaps it won’t be as intrusive as all that, but in any case privacy advocates can hold off worrying just a bit longer — there’s a lot of infrastructure upgrading needed for the bandwidth providers and consumers will need to get IP-addressable set top boxes. It seems to be at least 5 years out. Start the countdown…