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You thought targeted Facebook ads were bad for privacy? Wait until you see cross-screen addressable ads…

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Last month we wrote about Cambridge Analytica, and how its micro-targeting may have had a significant influence on the US election and Brexit. A new article in Fast Company reveals that the firm is extending its services to the world of TV:

“Since last year’s presidential campaigns, the company has sought to expand further into targeted, or addressable, TV, an emerging type of data-driven ad technology that marketers and political campaigns can use to know not just what key audiences and voters like on TV and in other media, but also to determine what particular messages to show them and when.”

Addressable TV employs the same techniques that allowed Cambridge Analytica to target Facebook users with pinpoint precision. A company analyzes viewer data gathered from digital set-top boxes to build up a detailed profile of each household. It can then combine that information with data that it buys from other sources about people living at the address where the set-top box is located. Putting this all together, data analysis companies try to work out what kind of ads will work best for each household. Because the TV transmission is based on set-top boxes, it is then possible to send tailored ads to single households – what is called “one-to-one” advertising in the industry – rather than to everyone watching a broadcast, as in traditional TV advertising.

Cambridge Analytica’s “brand-focused” unit, called CA Commercial, has just launched its own TV targeting product, SelecTV, available in the US and UK, with additional countries following in due course. Although Cambridge Analytica is one of the best-known companies operating in the new field, it is by no means alone. A 53-page “Guide

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