Spyware Technology Thought Experiments

If I can block spam email, why not spam commercials?

The viewer should be able to mark commercials as SPAM, False-Advertisement, or Irrelevant to see more poignant commercials. installs spyware and viruses
This is spyware. Don't install anything you see a TV commercial for that will "clean" your computer

Over the course of the last 15 years I’ve learned a lot of tricks to keep spammers from getting my email, and spyware from getting installed. I do my best to create informative posts like these on this blog, but not everyone has access to it, and some don’t even realize how much they have put themselves at risk, and don’t consider it to be that big of a deal.

In my post about Improving Commercials, I take the position that commercials are useful to some extent, but have room to be improved. The other side of that coin are the commercials that are not useful: the ones that would be considered SPAM and SPYWARE-inducing if they were in email format.

I’ve seen the movie “Love & Other Drugs” – I know this is people’s livelihood to get the new drugs on the doctor’s shelf to give to patients, especially if it’s better, has fewer side-effects, or costs less. I get it. However, I don’t need it. I don’t even need to know about it.

There is no reason for a Cialis commercial after 5pm. Its target demographic is already in bed.

Asking people to treat their doctors as legalized drug dealers is one thing. Blatantly lying to people about what your service does is completely different. There is no software out there that will “double your speed”, there is no software that “fixes registry errors”, and there is no software that can “remove popups” that aren’t already removed by your browser.

All of these issues have real solutions, but they do not involve installing 3rd-party software.

Cable companies should allow user-feedback on the advertisers they sell spots to, or at least have some sort of ethics-in-advertising guidelines before letting someone come on. I know they can do this – I’ve seen the local broadcaster preempt national HD commercials with local SD commercials (And I hate it by the way – if it’s an HD channel, only HD commercials should be aired).

There should be a button on the remote that allows the viewer to mark this commercial as SPAM, False Advertisement, or (if you want to get granular) Irrelevant.

I realize this leaves the door wide open for every commercial to be marked as SPAM by some viewers, but the cross-sectional results of which commercials were marked as SPAM by *a majority* of viewers would have more value than the “dirty” data from abuse. And then commercials could be tailored to the household receiving them so that the ad-expense is actually worth the cost for the advertisers (and the ad-revenue can be increased due to the increased relevancy the cable company’s system can offer).

Seems like a win-win from my view. Customers don’t have to see SPAM commercials, and can vote-down false-advertisements, and potentially vote up relevant ads. Cable Companies can generate more ad-revenue from advertisers who would likely do better as a result of only broadcasting to interested customers.

By [[Neo]]

I am a web programmer, system integrator, and photographer. I have been writing code since high school, when I had only a TI-83 calculator. I enjoy getting different systems to talk to each other, coming up with ways to mimic human processes using technology, and explaining how complicated things work.

Of my many blogs, this one is purely about the technology projects, ideas, and solutions that I have come across in my internet travels. It's also the place for technical updates related to my other sites that are part of The-Spot.Network.

One reply on “If I can block spam email, why not spam commercials?”

Agreed on all aspects. Some have already started doing that too, although not *quite* cable companies.
When you are watching anything off of Hulu Plus (I don’t recall if non-membered Hulu is the same way), they do air limited commercials, but they also give you the ability to mark any of those commercials as relevant to the viewer. For example, male bachelors wouldn’t need female products (and if you do, I’m questioning your sanity), and if there is a product being aired, then they can just click irrelevant. They won’t see that commercial anymore or anything related.

I’m not quite sure if cable companies are at that point to show specific ads towards individuals. What I’ve seen so far is that the ads they display are shown across the entire network, so everyone is seeing the same ad whether or not its relevant, with the exception of local commercials in which they would have little power over. At such point, that’s up to the network itself, not the cable company.

I hope you are able to understand the point I’m trying to portray here ^_^;

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