I just watched maybe fifteen minutes of free streaming television on my Roku and was treated to about a dozen ads in that time. Every one of them were for cars, trucks, mobile services and other big brands. Not a single one was local or relevant. I look forward to the day when streaming TV commercials act more like the targeted display ads I see on my laptop and smartphone.

Say what you want about display advertising. Maybe you find targeted ads annoying or creepy or whatever. At least they’re more interesting than those that I see when I watch TV, streaming or otherwise.

Sure, when I first saw ads for the exact shoes that I had just shopped for, or the business trip I was planning, or the restaurant near me (even when I was traveling), I thought they were a little creepy too. How did the internet know so much about all the things that I like? How did it know where I was located?

Today, I have a better understanding of how things work. The internet is free because of advertisers, and those advertisers want their investments to be effective. So they use data about my shopping behavior and location to target me with relevant ads. Fair enough. If I have to see ads, they might as well be of interest to me. It’s a win-win for advertisers and consumers.

But here’s the thing… now that I’ve gotten used to ads that are actually meaningful to me, those that are irrelevant are more annoying than ever! Having bought a new car this summer, sitting through ten car commercials is just a waste of my time. Diaper commercials are a little more bearable because those babies are so damn cute, but as the father of two teenagers, I’m not buying diapers any time soon. Don’t even get me started on the commercials for drugs I can’t pronounce.

When I watch free content via streaming television (that could be Apple TV, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Google Chromecast, etc.) I understand that I’m getting free programming and that there will be commercials. I’m just so tired of big pharma, big auto and big retail owning the space. I want to see commercials for local businesses offering products and services that are important to me. And if the internet can do it with targeted display ads, why can’t “internet TV?”

Oh wait. It can!

Thanks to the brilliance of cross-device matching, it is now possible for ad tech companies to match Connected TV devices with the laptops, tablets and smartphones of users in a household. This means that the digital breadcrumbs associated with these devices can inform the targeting of a Connected TV ad campaign.

We’re talking about the ability to target users based on their

  • Home address
  • Smartphone location history
  • Keyword searches and websites visited
  • Demographic (age, gender, marital status, etc.)
  • Lifestyle interests
  • Political affiliation
  • Purchase history
  • and more

Of course, the level of targeting accuracy ranges significantly depending on whom the advertiser is buying from.

Unfortunately for most SMBs, they don’t know what’s available or even what questions to ask. That’s why it’s so important that they work closely with a company and a sales representative that (A) they trust and (B) is committed to understanding and pursing new ad technology.

It’s still a little early to know how local advertisers will take advantage of Connected TV, but personally, I’m looking forward to sitting down to watch an old episode of Wonder Woman and getting served commercials for Jeep parts, theme parks and BBQ restaurants… in other words, the stuff that I like!

Just like in the targeted display space, that’ll be a win-win for both the advertisers and the consumers.