Study: 49% of smart TV users unclear on how their viewing habits are tracked
- Nearly half (49%) of surveyed viewers aren't sure if their TV watching habits are being monitored, though 62% have TVs that are connected to the internet, according to an Ace Metrix survey of consumer privacy related to internet-connected TVs.
- Only 13% of viewers being tracked knew that they were being monitored and remembered agreeing to the terms and conditions for their smart TV. Even though data companies say they get viewers' consent for traciking, 75% of viewers surveyed didn't know how they gave consent.
- The survey also revealed that 61% of consumers with a specific, unnamed brand of smart TV weren't sure if their device collected data about their viewing habits. Twenty-one percent said they weren't being monitored, while 8% knew they were being monitored and remembered agreeing to the terms. Seven percent didn't remember agreeing to any terms and conditions, and 3% knew and disabled the monitoring.
Much of the conversation around data privacy in recent months has been centered on social media platforms, like Facebook, with its Cambridge Analytical scandal, but the Ace Metrix survey highlights how the issue extends to data collectors and advertisers on any internet-connected platform, including TVs. Seventy-eight percent of marketers plan to buy connected TV ads over the next 12 months, according to recent research by SteelHouse and Advertiser Perceptions, making the problem more pressing.
Since many consumers don't realize that the default privacy setting on their smart TVs may allow for extensive access to their viewing behaviors, transparency might become a bigger topic of conversation in the connected TV space going forward. Protecting consumer privacy has become a mounting concern, with lawmakers and other stakeholders taking notice and demanding more from tech companies. The state of California, for example, recently adopted a new privacy law that closely resembles the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requiring internet companies receive informed consent for data they collect on their users.
"With GDPR, and the newly passed Consumer Privacy Act in California, the industry hit an inflection point on privacy," Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix, said in a statement. "Research and data companies need to wake up. They need to be leading privacy and consumer consent reform — not following it."
A study by Maritz Motivation Solutions and the Harvard Business School shows that consumers tend to appreciate when marketers are transparent and communicate how customer data is used to target ads to them. When consumers received product recommendations paired with a transparent message explaining that those recommendations were based on their past behaviors, click-through rates increased by 11%. Time spent on the product page also increased 34% and consumers spent 38% more on the recommended items, the groups found.