Sky has launched a new 'targeted' ads service which it says can direct commercials straight to your TV based on information about what you watch, what you don't, and even what websites or products you enjoy.

The new service - AdSmart - launches this week after a six month trial.

The way it works is that Sky will insert new ads into your regular live TV ad breaks, swapping out the commercials shown to national audiences.

So while 80% of the country might be watching an advert for washing up liquid, you might be watching a video games clip. And if you already have Sky Broadband, you'll see an ad for a drama series instead of another promo clip for that service.

The ads won't be shown during recorded TV, and should be fairly imperceptible. Currently it's only available in 20% of homes, however, so there's a good chance you won't get it right away anyway.

Sky says it gives advertisers the ability to more accurately target ads, meaning more relevant spots for viewers to watch and more efficient spending for Don Draper types. Many of its early customers - including RBS, Littlewoods and American Airlines - had previously reduced their spending on TV ads or stopped altogther.

If it works it could bolster the TV ad industry against the arguably more responsive online market.

However, concerns about privacy will likely be raised - in which case Sky says to review their privacy notice and make sure you know the details.

Sky lists the information it can use to show you "better" ads - it includes:

  • Information you've provided to us, including on our websites.
  • Information about our products and services you've ordered or enquired about.
  • Information provided by other companies who've obtained your permission to share information about you.
  • Information about the channels, programmes, advertisements and services you access, for example how you view, record or fast forward them.
  • Information we collect using cookies stored on your device about your use of Sky and/or selected third party websites. For more information on cookies and how to manage them, please see the section on cookies.
  • Your IP address, this is a number that identifies a specific network device on the internet and is required for your device to communicate with websites.
  • Technical information from your Sky device(s) relating to the service you receive, for example, the collection of diagnostic information.

if you're not happy, opt out of AdSmart on their website.

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