Is Monetizing Hollywood’s Content Online a Choice Between Price and Privacy?

In between Google and Facebook, it’s easy to feel like the constant target of a data mining operation that’s garnering an uncomfortable amount of information about our personal lives. But a recent post in Deadline suggests that advertisers feel like they aren’t actually getting very much information about the people who are consuming their content when those consumers view a show or a clip online instead of on a set-top television. Here are some of the most relevant breakdowns:

Conventional TV: A :30 ad displayed to a viewer watching Glee on a traditional TV set is included in Nielsen’s C3 estimate for the applicable demographic.

Hulu: That same :30 ad displayed to a viewer watching Glee on Hulu is reported by Hulu to the advertiser as an impression served, with no specific demographic information (Hulu will provide an estimate of the overall composition of site users)…

Mobile devices in home: That same :30 ad displayed to a viewer watching Glee streaming to her iPad (in her home) isn’t captured at all.


Mobile devices away from home: That same :30 ad displayed to a viewer watching Glee on a mobile device (outside her home) is reported by whatever service is delivering the video clip, with no specific demographic.

I’ve always enjoyed Hulu’s option to give feedback about whether an ad is relevant to me, both because it means I’m deluged with less totally irrelevant content, and because I’ve always assumed that I’m helping make the service a better option for both advertisers and content providers by giving them the ability to target me pretty directly. But apparently that’s not the case. And it raises an interesting question for those who want content to be available online for lower out-of-pocket costs than it is now. Would you be willing to give up some of your privacy and to be targeted much more directly by advertisers if it made content distribution on the web more profitable, and more viable?