Pay-TV consumers don’t like having their personal information being sold to drive ads to them that reflect their unique interests.
A new report by Parks Associates revealed that 59% of pay-TV subscribers in U.S. broadband households are bothered by the fact that advertisers use their personal viewing data. What’s more, the research firm also found that nearly 40% of pay-TV subscribers worry about the safety and use of their personal data when they use an online video service.
“Privacy fears are a major factor in broadband consumers’ online media experiences,” said Glenn Hower, senior analyst at Parks Associates. “Advertisers have the most to gain by leveraging viewership data, and those advantages will only increase as they acquire more personal information such as search histories.”
Parks’ report emerges at a time when the privacy issue has become a critical policy issue. On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a joint resolution allowing ISPs to sell collected consumer data without requiring opt-in consent from consumers. Meanwhile, the FCC voted to suspend rules regulating consumer data privacy.
A New Era
In yet another act to undo the Obama-era rules, President Donald Trump signed a resolution Monday repealing the FCC’s privacy rules for internet service providers (ISPs). The rules, which the FCC put in place last August but had yet to take effect, essentially prohibited wireless carriers and other ISPs from sharing customers’ personal data with third parties without users’ consent.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai praised Congress and President Trump’s actions on the privacy issue.
“President Trump and Congress have appropriately invalidated one part of the Obama-era plan for regulating the internet,” Pai said in prepared remarks. “American consumers’ privacy deserves to be protected regardless of who handles their personal information.”
Consumer Fears Remain
Verizon, AT&T and Comcast all insisted that they won’t sell customers’ browsing histories despite the repeal of the FCC’s rules. However, service providers’ promises are of little comfort to consumers. Parks said that a majority of consumers are concerned about the safety and privacy issues created by these practices, meaning advertisers and pay-TV providers will need to be transparent about their data collection and protection of consumers’ information.
Additionally, pay-TV providers need to be aware of this issue, as 34% of U.S. pay-TV subscribers indicated in a Parks survey that they trust an online video service more than they trust their current pay-TV provider.
Other companies like Google see it differently. The internet search giant said it will now allow advertisers to target YouTube ads based solely on a consumer’s search history. This means brands can push video ads to viewers who recently searched for a retail product, a specific movie trailer, or information on a television show.