In case you’ve forgotten, when you buy a Vizio TV your viewing behavior is being monitored, tabulated and now shared for use by Verizon Media.

TV vendor Vizio, which has been controversial in the past for its extensive use of viewer data-mining activity through its TV sets, announced last week a new strategic partnership with Verizon Media to deliver cross-platform and connected TV (CTV) advertising to viewers of its television sets.

The companies said their cross-platform solutions will leverage unique TV viewership data for targeted advertising and access to premium program content.

Under the deal, Verizon Media will gain “demand-side platform (DSP) access to viewership data from Vizio’s Inscape” technology and service that develops systems and services to measure and monitor viewership data from Vizio’s more than 18 million installed ‘opted-in’ smart TVs throughout North America.

Following class-action lawsuits filed in 2015 and 2017 by a few disgruntled Vizio TV purchasers, Vizio agreed to clearly communicate to TV buyers that its television sets monitor and report their viewing habits and patterns, which the company’s Inscape subsidiary uses for various after-market revenue generation purposes.

If this disturbs you, keep in mind that viewers must opt into allowing Vizio to use this data gathering before they can activate various smart TV features upon setup of the product. This is typically spelled out in lengthy legal documents requiring you to check off before proceeding to use various smart TV features.

Although Vizio came under public scrutiny for this practice during the well-reported class action lawsuit and subsequent settlement, it is not the only TV brand to engage in such activities. In fact, they pretty much all do it to one degree or another.

Smart TVs today use operating systems developed by either the TV manufacturer or a partnered third-party smart TV enabler to monitor customers’ viewing activity. This is then mined for use for everything from potentially welcomed services like making targeted programming recommendations for an easier and more enjoyable viewing experience, to recording particular activity patterns and interests of customers that the TV company or smart TV platform developer (or both) can then sell to third parties for targeted advertising purposes, among other things.

Upon set up of a new smart TV, viewers of almost every smart TV sold today are typically asked to agree to an End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) allowing the company the right to engage in this activity. Try reading one someday, it might cure your insomnia. If the viewer declines, certain features and functions sold with the television might not be accessible to them. Just be aware of that before you buy you next TV or forever hold your peace.

One of Vizio’s TV sales propositions is its highly competitive “value pricing” for better featured models. These prices are subsidized, in part, through the viewer data collection that Inscape conducts seamlessly to the viewer.

Through the new exclusivity deal, Verizon Media will become the sole DSP to access this data beginning in 2022.

The companies said the alliance will enable expanded connected TV targeting, optimization, and measurement opportunities for Verizon Media’s DSP advertisers, independent of cookies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Vizio remains the exclusive seller of this guaranteed inventory and data licensing, and now also becomes the “preferred supply-side platform (SSP) for programmatic ad monetization.”

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“The evolving TV landscape creates unique opportunities and challenges for our customers. To meet and exceed the needs for growth in this area, we continue to strengthen our unified ad stack, which is an end-to-end, integrated ecosystem that delivers sustainable Identity, access to premium inventory and data, and the tools that drive performance and efficiency,” stated Iván Markman, Chief Business Officer, Verizon Media. “This partnership with Vizio illustrates the deep and meaningful integrations we can forge, and reflects our commitment to leading in the CTV space. Together, we’re empowering our advertisers with exclusive data from the industry’s top hardware and software provider, and strengthening our solutions for publishers.”

According to the joint statement, the deal “also strengthens Vizio’s cross platform ad retargeting product, Household Connect. Through Verizon Media’s unified ad platform, Vizio can now offer audience extension campaigns to its advertisers that are fueled by Verizon Media’s unique omni-channel marketplace and diverse cross-device Identity Graph, matched with near real-time Inscape ACR data.”

According to the announcement “Verizon Media’s consent-based Identity Graph is fueled by 200 billion daily cross-screen signals derived from direct consumer relationships across Verizon Media. Combining Verizon Media’s Identity Graph with Inscape, Vizio’s leading TV data set, enables advertisers to intelligently optimize ad delivery to consumers in the home and on the go. Using this, advertisers can extend the reach and frequency of their Vizo CTV campaigns while reinforcing brand messaging in an omni-channel manner.”

“Vizio has built a CTV advertising ecosystem centered around premium partnerships and our direct-to-device offering,” said Mike O’Donnell, Chief Revenue Officer, Platform+ at Vizio. “Our relationship with Verizon Media will enable us to expand our reach, bridge the gap between TV and mobile, and create more impactful and actionable premium advertising experiences across platforms.”

The statement continued that Vizio and Verizon Media together “will have joint transparency into demand from advertisers, the ability to maximize performance, and access unique insights to drive targeting, incremental reach, optimization, and measurement across platforms.”

The partners said this announcement marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration focused on innovation and next-generation capabilities, “including initiatives around immersive and co-watching viewing experiences, interactive cross-platform campaigns, new ad formats, commerce, and advertised video on demand (AVoD) content library development.”

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By Greg Tarr

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