Roku interactive ads wade into potentially creepy territory

A new type of streaming video ad could sniff out other devices on your Wi-Fi network.

A new type of advertisement on Roku devices is raising privacy concerns among some users.

Roku is partnering with a company called Innovid to offer interactive advertisements. The ads could allow users to play a game, view current sales, or browse a retailer's catalog. CBS, Crackle, and VEVO, all of which run video advertisements in their Roku apps already, will reportedly be the first to try the new interactive ads.

The creepy-sounding part comes buried in a TechCrunch story on the new ad format (emphasis mine): "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," TechCrunch's report says, without any further explanation.

That line seems to imply that advertisers can see other devices on your network--for instance, which TVs, smartphones, and computers you own--and personalize its ads accordingly. But it's hard to say for sure without more details.

In the meantime, some Roku users are starting express their concerns. "I've been a huge Roku fan for the past few years, and have recommended their players to quite a few people," wrote one user in Reddit's cord cutting forum.

"I won't be doing that, and will be looking for alternatives for my own use if they don't back down on this." Some commenters in Engadget's coverage have been expression their dismay as well (though a few users seem confused into thinking Roku apps didn't have ads at all before, which certainly is not the case.)

We've reached out to Roku for clarification, but haven't heard back yet.

Why this matters: Roku's streaming media boxes have thrived in recent years, largely because users appreciate its app-selection and user-friendliness. Letting advertisers snoop through users' Wi-Fi networks would be a fine way to tarnish that goodwill, so hopefully the company can clarify what it's doing and backtrack if it's as bad as it seems.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

How to become the customer experience custodian

The number one objective enterprises give for embarking on a digital transformation is to improve customer experiences with new engagement models, according to IDC’s 2017 global study.

Fear not: It's only a robot

Every time I pass through the automated border controls at the Sydney airport I walk away with a feeling of exasperation on the one hand and relief on the other. Exasperation, because the face recognition technology inevitably always fails to recognise me. Relief, because we seem to be safely years away from the Orwellian reality of states controlling every aspect of our lives; something the media is keenly warning us against each day.

Dan Kalinski

CEO, iProspect Australia and New Zealand

To DMP or not to DMP?

There are plenty of brands that can benefit from plugging into a data management platform. But should you engage an agency to run one or bring it in-house?

Ben Willee and Richard Taylor

Spinach Advertising

I worked at Momentum when the transformation started way back in 2013 (not 2015 as stated in the article). It was a painfully slow and co...

Jay

How Momentum Energy has transformed its entire business to be customer-led

Read more

Another buzzword thoughtlessly latched onto, without any thought for the implications on the organisations that have to lumber through th...

Tired

Rolling out agile marketing at Deakin

Read more

Useful., also don’t miss out on these 5 features of Adobe Experience Cloud - Visit here > http://www.softcrylic.com/b...

Sunil Joseph

Adobe debuts Advertising Cloud, Experience Cloud

Read more

the systems that run these things are teachable just like a car, theres stuff still yet to come out to bring up the automation grade, b...

Magnus Robert Carl Wootton

Fear not: It's only a robot - Big data delivery - CMO Australia

Read more

Marin Software’s digital marketing solution as a short way of streamlining and finding a scalable solution...

Al Drazhev

How BizCover is boosting search advertising success

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in