There are two arguments in the world of media that concern audiences. First, is Hollywood wanting to know who you are and what you watch, so they can contour programming to fit your likes for the sake of building a stronger catalyst for their advertisers. Second, are filmmakers that make strong programs that attract new anonymous audiences as a repercussion of the show’s cultural influences.
One sets you up to influence your buying decisions of specific brands and the other impacts your cultural decisions to purchase more things and experiences over all. Either way you address the subject, it’s all about Hollywood training us to worship the economy above all else.
NETFLIX uses algorithms to determine a person’s viewing taste and then promotes similar films to that viewer. By turning on NETFLIX at a friend’s house, a person can see an entire promotion list of different shows than what he or she would see at home, unless the friend has very similar tastes.
This methodology is not limited to a single company. For years the cable industry has collected data on audience viewing habits, but by law was not able to share the information with the networks. However, now that cable providers also own programming to compete against Internet offerings, the networks are stuck behind laws that hinder their knowledge of who’s watching, while the competition already knows who you are and what you watch.
One of the reason’s advertisers shifted to support cable programs comes from the knowledge of what you watch. They wanted to save ad dollars by placing their spots only on the shows their target audience views. Not only would their budgets have a higher conversion rate in generating sales dollars, but they would also be able to conform their universal commercials into taste specific ones.
The resulting battle for this information puts the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 in peril, as companies fight to know “personally identifiable information” about you. This becomes even more important as companies like HBO, CBS, and ESPN all release new subscription services this fall to compete against NETFLIX.
Current court battles based on alleged disclosures of what you watch includes Hulu, Cartoon Network, Disney Interactive and AMC Networks. While some of the allegations include combining information with Facebook, others are more straightforward in pin pointing ad tastes.
Yes, big brother is alive and well in Hollywood and many companies know your viewing habits, cell phone IDs, and video device IP addresses. They have enough information to push key programming your way in a slow progressive manner to alter your cultural choices. But, what they want next is to sell this information about you for capital gains.
Can you imagine a new political arena where you are slowly fed certain programming over four years to change your conservative voting pattern into a liberal one? Or, what about training you over eight years to change your desires about where you live or the car you drive? These tools have been in place since the 90’s.
It wasn’t coincidence that had a half dozen shows promoting a black president and a woman president for a few years before the 2008 elections. In fact, if you look at a map of viewing choices per top television markets and overlap it with presidential results, you’d see an obvious correlation.
There is no longer a conversation about whether or not the media impacts society, it does. The court allegations of today is whether or not your personal information can be sold to other companies so they can present their messages to influence your decisions in the near future.
What are your thoughts?
Should your personal information be sold so you’ll only receive ads designed just for you instead of being heaped on by thousands of ads that you don’t care about?
Or, should the companies that provide your purchased services hold your private information?