business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times has a story about the proposed merger of Time Warner and AT&T in which it suggests that the combined entity would be able to access "the vast trove of consumer data" that they own, allowing them to target "people with individualized TV commercials."

The story goes on to note that "targeted advertising has become commonplace on streaming services like Hulu or platforms like YouTube, where, for example, women in their 20s may see ads for birth control, pregnancy tests or certain movie trailers. Advertisers hope things could potentially move even beyond that on TV, with people seeing ads based on, for instance, their location or individual interests, much like what happens on the internet."

While there is some skepticism about whether an AT&T/Time Warner combo could achieve such a result, the general consensus seems to be that this is what advertisers want ... and a result for which they would be willing to pay.

I also think that it is something that viewers ultimately will want, and for which they might be willing to give permission. I don't know about you, but the vast majority of commercials that I see on television are completely irrelevant to my life, and if someone told me that I could see only things that were useful or interesting to me, I'd like that a lot.

There is, of course, a downside to this. We already live in a society where one is able to access only the so-called "facts" that one agrees with. This kind of technology might be increasingly isolating, and that's not a good thing.

But it seems like a likely evolution, just based on history. And, in its own way, an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: