Tru Optik leads consumer privacy initiative for OTT TV

The Connecticut-based firm has launched OptOut.TV, and about 40 other firms have signed on.

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With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)’s May 25 implementation looming, most of the attention has been focused on consumer privacy as it relates to visiting websites or mobile apps or targeting by web-based ads.

But Over-the-Top (OTT) online television services and net-connected TVs are booming, and those platforms are starting to become a focus of consumer privacy issues. Consumer Reports, for instance, reported this month about security vulnerabilities in Roku devices and Samsung smart TVs.

To get ahead of the demand for consumer privacy, OTT data provider Tru Optik has initiated its own privacy effort, called OptOut.TV.

CEO Andre Swanston told me that more than 40 other firms have signed up for the effort, including ad tech platform Videology and consumer data provider Alliant. He said that a more complete listing of companies agreeing to comply with OptOut.TV will be available in April, including the addition of new participating firms.

At some undefined point, Swanston added, Tru Optik will decline to work with any other company that does not subscribe to OptOut.TV. Tru Optik is currently defining the standard, which Swanston said was developed after input from other firms.

There is no other consumer data privacy standard for OTT/connected TV (CTV), he said, adding that his company took this step because “we’ve been hearing for two-and-a-half years” about the need. Individual devices, such as connected TVs, might offer their own privacy controls, but users’ choices in those controls do not impact other firms in the ecosystem.

Tru Optik says its OTT Data Marketplace “powers the majority of programmatic audience-based ads across CTV in the US.” In that position, Swanston said, “we felt it was our duty to work with our many partners to lead the charge in enabling consumer privacy.” Unless the right privacy controls are addressed now, he said in a statement, “the industry could be at risk.”

At the moment, the only way a user can find OptOut.TV is on its website. There, a user can either opt out at the household level for having their anonymized personal data utilized for OTT/connected TV audience-based ad targeting, or they can consent to its use. In consenting, the user can also choose to enhance that targeting by adding additional data fields, such as the number of people in the household, their ages and so on. Here’s part of an Enhance screen:

With options only for opt-out or enhance my data, OptOut.TV is not GDPR-compliant, but Swanston indicated his company has plans to roll out a GDPR-friendly OptOut.TV across Europe. Tru Optik’s OTT Data Cloud is currently US-oriented, although the company does generate some other revenue abroad. While OptOut.TV was announced last month, Swanston said its unnamed precursor has been in the field through his company for the past 18 months.

Swanston said the number of users who have opted out or enhanced their data is in the “low tens of thousands,” out of the more than 70 million US homes that Tru Optik covers. Of the ones who have interacted with OptOut.TV, he said, about a third are enhancing their data, and the rest are opting out.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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