If you're Samsung and you want to wring additional cash out of your television business, what do you do? Add annoying advertisements to TVs that people already have in their homes, apparently. The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung is readying the European expansion of an initiative it started in the United States last June: adding interactive advertisements to the menu bars of its high-end smart TVs. The impact isn't going to be limited just to customers buying new Samsung televisions, either, as the company reportedly plans to use software updates to retroactively bring the ads to older models that people already have in their homes.
Tricking customers into opting into ad-serving programs, or adding intrusive features after televisions have already been purchased, is the kind of customer-hostile behavior that consumers had to put with from PC OEMs for decades. But according to the Journal report, it is part of an orchestrated strategy on the part of Samsung, as the company has found the television business to be increasingly less profitable since the original high-definition boom. It's also worth noting that Samsung isn't alone here, either. LG was experimenting with pop-up ads in 2013, and Panasonic has been using software updates to add start-up banner ads for years — and that's just the tip of the iceberg. If anything, the lesson is that with greater technological capability comes greater responsibility, and television companies flailing for profit just can't seem to help themselves. So if you get a new Samsung TV, be prepared to do some digging before you can watch your favorite films and shows without interruption. You can turn off motion smoothing while you're at it.