Chapell & Associates

Thursday, July 27, 2006

TiVo Is Watching When You Don’t Watch, and It Tattles

NY Times - July 27, 2006 (Registration Required)
AS the advertising and television industries debate how to measure viewers of shows watched on digital video recorders, the pioneering maker of the recorders,
TiVo, is getting into the argument. It is starting a research division to sell data about how its 4.4 million users watch commercials — or, more often, skip them. The service is based on an analysis of the second-by-second viewing patterns of a nightly sample of 20,000 TiVo users, whose recorders report back to TiVo on what was watched and when.

The Chapell View
I'm sure there's somebody out there blogging about the collection and sale of consumer television viewing habits. "Why does TIVO have a right to my information?" Etc. Etc. Etc.

But Tivo really isn't the story here. A quick glance at their
privacy policy indicates that they seem to do a pretty good job of disclosing their data collection practices. YES, their policy is too long, and written like a contract, and a pain in the arse to get through...

But the real story is the number of companies that have access to your consumption patterns. Television is relatively simple. Your Cable/Satellite company has access to this data, either by themselves, or via atechnologyy provider such as Invidi. And yourdigitall recording device, if you have one, also has access to this data. (i.e., Tivo).

What are the odds of the average person reading through even ONE of these privacy policies - let alone both of them?

And again - television is relatively simple, when compared to other forms of media consumption. Take a look at your computer, where several third party service providers have access to some or part of your data, including:

  • Your Internet Service Provider
  • Just about every web site you visit
  • Many of the thid party vendors for those web sites, including ad serving, behavioral targeting and analytics companies.
  • Your browser and/or operating system manufacturer
  • Other software resident on your computer, including certain anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • The company that provides the names of artists on the CD's that you play/upload onto your computer.
  • The DRM agent when you purchase or consume music on your computer.

Now, let's assume that each of these organizations AREdoingg the right thing - as I think most of them are...

How long would it take a reasonable consumer to read through all those statements in order to make an informed choice? If a consumer opts out from one of these collection programs, how would they know their opt-out was honored?

Maybe the large online companies are right - build a brand, demonstrate trustworthiness... and bank upon that fact thatno onee has time to read the fine print...

posted by Alan on Thursday, July 27, 2006

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC