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Oh joy, Samsung may soon turn your smartphone into a billboard for ads

Published Oct 3rd, 2019 9:26AM EDT
Galaxy S11 Release Date
Image: Lee Jin-Man/AP/Shutterstock

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For the second year in a row last week, Samsung was the official sponsor of the Advertising Week industry confab in New York. That sponsorship meant that the 100,000 or so visitors from the marketing industry on hand got treated not only to prominent Samsung signage but to branding for Samsung Ads, the feature that pipes ads onto the company’s smart TVs.

That’s all indicative of how much importance Samsung places on serving up ads, something the South Korea-based electronics giant is apparently about to expand soon in a big way: It would do so by bringing the same Samsung Ads feature to its smartphones, essentially turning them into an expansive new platform for showing ads to users.

That’s according to a patent for the “Samsung Mobile Ads” brand name for which the company registered a trademark this week with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, as spotted by Dutch tech news site LetsGoDigital. The patent’s description makes it clear Samsung envisions this type of ad service coming to its smartphones as well as Galaxy tablets, all of which the LetsGoDigital team speculates would be the recipients of “interest-based advertisements.”

Sound potentially annoying? Of course it does. All the more so if the company mimics one of the most annoying things about its Samsung Ads for Smart TVs, which the user is allowed to turn off — but only if they figure out how to navigate into and through the TV’s terms and conditions menu.

On the one hand, you can’t fault a company for regarding the smartphones that are with us basically 24/7 as prime advertising real estate. While it’s not known yet when or if Samsung will launch this feature, it’s one that bears close watching, since relying on data from a user’s smartphone to serve up ads directly to that smartphone sounds like a privacy minefield just waiting to emerge.

If you want to get a taste of Samsung’s ambitions though, just listen to the way the company describes the existing Samsung Ads for its smart TVs on the Samsung Ads webpage: “Our purpose is to drive unparalleled results for our customers. We leverage a proprietary data set no one else has, to deliver insights to marketers no one else can offer.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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