Archives For Advertising

Update! Roku has asked TechCrunch to remove an inaccurate statement and tells us: “Roku does not collect data from a customer’s WiFi network nor collect data from any other devices on a customer’s WiFi network.” Move along on, folks! Original story follows:


Assuming neither TechCrunch nor Roku misspoke, our streaming boxes (and sticks) will soon begin snooping on us. As Roku looks to generate revenue beyond meager hardware margins, they’re getting serious with measurement and advertising. And I get the need to monetize. However, the incoming ad platform piloted on Crackle is all sorts of creepy:

These interactive ads can also be personalized using data like a user’s location, as well as by tracking information collected on devices running on a household’s Wi-Fi network using traditional means.

Geo-targeting is a generally accepted practice to fine-tune offers, but sniffing my network to see what other devices I might be running is well out of bounds. Further, what other data will be passed along? For example, as Roku ramps up their analytics business, how might folks linking a Plex library or having installed an “adult” channel feel?

If TC’s nugget holds true, Roku will clearly need to update their privacy policy. It was last revised in March, to accomodate Nuance’s voice search, but makes absolutely no mention of identifying my location or scanning my network — something I imagine privacy groups, the EFF, and others would want to be aware of.

Nielsen to Measure Roku Video Ads

Slingbox, Now Covered In Ads

Dave Zatz —  March 20, 2015


Late last fall, Sling Media began experimenting placing ads within the Slingbox web client – both obtrusively placed banner ads and pre-roll video ads.

Well, as a follow-on, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Ha, just kidding, it’s all bad news… as those who accepted the prompt to download the latest desktop Slingplayer client in time for March Madness are now treated to an interface overrun with ads, as shown above. Going full screen or shrinking the window does reduce the chrome and ads; However, it’s still a startling spammy intrusion. If that wasn’t disappointing enough, Sling has seriously overstepped when it comes to their Slingbox 500 owners who shelled out $300 for the benefit of video pass-thru and television output now sullied by banner advertisement overlays. Initially, Sling is promoting new features. But we can guess where this is going. And not only do they drop the ad unit on top of your video, their implementation is flawed in that both sound and video are briefly interrupted as it clears. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the mobile apps – at some point will they too receive ads and, if so, would that result in dropping the $15 iPhone and Android fee?

(Update: Sling Media PR informs me that the Slingbox 500 overlay will not be used for third party ads and paid mobile apps will not receive ads. Further, they’d like to direct folks to this Multichannel article which covers their web and desktop player ad-serving position.)

Continue Reading…

DVR Love Is In The Air

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2015

In honor of Valentine’s Day, both TiVo and DISH have taken to social media to promote their respective remote control finder alerts. Sadly DISH “can’t help you find love with the push of a button” … whereas TiVo proclaims “even our remote finder is a turn on” that “heightens the mood” (while retrieving it from your partner’s blouse). Food for thought when choosing your next provider and set-top box. Continue Reading…


While not quite the annual tradition it should be, we do periodically round up the millions upon millions invested in Super Bowl advertising. And, for me, beyond the string of not-quite-inspirational, downright depressing, and/or dad-centric commercials, the most memorable 2015 spots were Chevy encouraging folks to watch television behind the wheel and seeing Liam Neeson reprise his Taken character … to pimp an iPhone app. Speaking of recycled fictional characters, Walter White and The Dude also made appearances to further offset the overarching negativity. Continue Reading…

Smart TVs, Dumber By The Moment

Dave Zatz —  January 19, 2015


Like many of you, I’ve questioned the value of a “smart” TV. On one hand, quick access to online apps like Netflix courtesy “Input 1” ~with no additional equipment~ is quite appealing. However, despite advances in performance and functionality, we’re not going to replace our televisions at the same rate we might be compelled to pick up the latest and greatest streaming solutions. Not to mention reboots and advertising further diminish the value prop.

Sadly, to get the very best panels and processing these days, whatever new set one acquires will likely be saddled with an Internet platform. And no one abuses that connectivity and customer goodwill as effectively as Samsung. What they and Delivery Agent call a “Solution” the rest of us will call a “problem” … as David Chartier and the Boston Globe point to a newly introduced overlay that drops a (Dunkin’ Donuts) ad unit on top of a possibly related commercial. They presumably use metadata markers, as TiVo has, to determine when to hit you with an ad. But really the technical intricacies are secondary to the compromised user experience and disruption. Continue Reading…


Without a hint of marketing muscle, SlingPlayer for Amazon Fire TV was quietly introduced a day or so ago. As you’d expect, the app allows you to pipe Slingbox video to another television in the home or really anywhere in the world. Or so their new TV Everywhere campaign proclaims. While I’m not prepared to pass judgement after only a few minutes of steaming TiVo > Fire TV Stick, it does indeed work as advertised (although only Slingbox 350, M1, and SlingTV/500 models are supported).

Interestingly, unlike recent Chromecast and Roku clients, this particular Slingbox presentation does not require a $15 mobile app in the mix… and harks back to the days of the Logitech Revue and WDTV Slingplayer. However, the fee-free sensation may be short-lived given the recently introduced and persistent banner ads now found in the web player… along with pre-roll video advertisements now being injected into our streams?!

(Via our pal Arne in Munich)

DISH & Comcast DVRs Outpace TiVo?

Dave Zatz —  December 12, 2014


While TiVo focuses their resources on serving smaller and international television providers, as retail customers defect, the larger US cable and satellite companies continue to crank away on their own compelling in-house DVR services.

Although DISH may have given up some ground in the Hopper’s ability to, you know, actually hop (over commercials) they just completed a nationwide software update that brings one-button access to Closed Captioning and the ability to watch an in-progress “live” show from the beginning should you have gotten a late start and the programming is resident within the On Demand catalog. But way more interesting, given our collective shift in scripted television viewing patterns, is the new Binge Bar (as shown above). Once you’ve finished watching an episode, any remaining episodes on your DVR or in the VOD catalog are presented – as pioneered by Netflix and similar to Comcast’s X1 “Next Episode Suggestion.”


Speaking of Comcast, TiVo has felt free to publicly bash their so-called partner… despite upcoming improvements to that Xfinity X1 HTML5 platform — including deeper Pandora and other “web site integration,” along with a few other features TiVo doesn’t possess. From the Donohue Report:

Its Share2TV app will allow X1 subscribers to stream personal videos recorded on mobile devices with any X1 subscriber in the country. Comcast is also developing an app called Family Point which will allow subscribers to view the locations of family members on TV by tracking smartphones that are connected to X1, and family members will also be able to leave messages through “sticky notes” that will be displayed when a television is turned on.