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Ads may be streaming on your smart TV even when you turn it off

Nearly 10% of streaming ads are ‘shown’ when people’s TVs are turned off.

smart tv on stand
Image: Unsplash

Think ads no longer affect you once your TV’s off? Think again. According to The Wall Street Journal, new research reveals that commercials play on ad-supported services on your smart TV even when you switch the power off.

This comes from a study by WPP PLC’s ad-buying organization GroupM and ad-measurement company iSpot.tv Inc.

In fact, the research shows around 17% of ads on TVs connected to streaming sticks, dongles, boxes, and consoles continue to play when the TV is off. It’s not a malicious act, though.

READ MORE: Lockscreen ads are coming to the US and they are disgusting

It seems like it could be, but it’s really more of a technical issue. Because when you turn a TV off, it doesn’t always send the required signal to your streaming device to cut everything off.

So that means your device just keeps playing everything. Your shows and your ads included. That’s unless you exit or pause the app when you turn off your TV. So, it makes sense, right? If you leave your streaming service running, those ads are still going to play.

roku streaming stick 4k
The ad issue is mainly limited to streaming sticks (Image: KnowTechie)

On the flip side, this doesn’t really occur with smart TVs pre-loaded with streaming apps. In fact, GroupM stated it found “virtually no incidence” of the same problem on smart TV apps. The problem mainly lies within connected devices.

Interestingly, the survey revealed that between 8% and 10% of all streaming ads were actually shown when TVs were completely off.

Media companies have been looking into solutions to this issue. One strategy has included the irritating but apparently necessary “Are you still watching?” pop-up.

Additionally, the study found some other interesting tidbits. Ads would far more likely be served after TVs had already been turned off when people were watching free content. This was a stark difference from when people were watching on-demand shows.

It’s an odd problem to be sure, but iSpot is already in talks to deliver a new product that may change things for advertisers. It would verify a TV is on before delivering commercials. There’s also new tech in the works that will utilize sensors to determine whether a TV is off or not.

Bottom line? We’re going to see ads, whether we like it or not. Companies are just going to have to get smarter about it.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Brittany Vincent is an accomplished video game, technology, and entertainment writer whose work has been featured in various online and print publications. She’s been writing professionally for 15 years and enjoys combining her extensive video game knowledge with her passion for the written word.

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