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BNZ’s 'bank of you' ad gets a little too personal

22 Jan 2018

The BNZ “Bank of You” advertisement played on TVNZ OnDemand and showed New Zealanders going about their everyday lives.

The advertisement included a personalised adaptation which allowed the TVNZ registered user’s first name from their TVNZ OnDemand account to appear in a graphic of the video.

The graphic reads “Bank of [Name]” then changes to “Bank of New Zealand”.

Four complainants were concerned the advertisement for BNZ “Bank of You” used their name in the TVNZ OnDemand advertisement and some were concerned the advertisement used subliminal messaging.

The Advertiser said the advertisement employed personalisation by merging the advertisement with data collected by TVNZ.

The Complaints Board noted the relevant part of that policy referred to collection of personal information to make advertising more relevant to consumers.

The Media, TVNZ, said the advertisement had been removed while it reviews its Privacy Policy to make it clearer to people how their personal information might be used.

The Advertiser responded to the complaints and said the advertisement was “a personalised adaptation of a standard 30" advert from this campaign, which began on 6 November 2017 on the TVNZ OnDemand platform.

TVNZ offered BNZ the opportunity to add increased relevance to the advert on its channel and engage users in a fun way, by replacing the generic name in the ad with the first name of the user.

BNZ supplied the Advertisement to TVNZ with a blank space in place of the generic name usually used.

TVNZ then applied the first name of the user in that space using their TVNZ OnDemand account details.

Three complainants were concerned the advertisement for BNZ “Bank of You” used their name in the TVNZ OnDemand advertisement and some were concerned the advertisement used subliminal messaging.

F. Dellebeke says, “I object to BNZ knowing what I watch and using my name in their ad, which I assume is targeting just me in a clever way to try and get me to change banks if I don’t already bank with BNZ which I do not.”

H. Murphy says, “I thought subliminal advertising was illegal, tonight the BNZ advert very quickly inserted my name before it brought up Bank of New Zealand.”

P. Kukadia says, “I am not a customer of BNZ, I don't how they accessed my name via the OnDemand service, I did not give BNZ permission to use my name, I do not appreciate BNZ using my name.”

The Advertiser said that after considering the concerns raised by this complainant and others, and given that ad personalisation is a relatively new type of video advertising technology for many New Zealanders, they will be updating their OnDemand Privacy Policy with additional information to explain to viewers how ad personalisation works.

Personally, I don't think that this is as big of an issue as it’s being made out to be, users who read privacy policies and accept them will know that it’s very clearly stated that targeted advertising may take place.

When you accept those terms you accept that your data (including your name) is being used, now these details aren’t allowed to be used in a public sphere, for example, national TV.

However, in this case, the ad is only targeted at one person and is only being screened for one person, so in my opinion, it's no different from Facebook's targeted ads.

My coworker wholeheartedly disagrees with me on the other hand.

She believes that there is a difference between simple data mining and the usage of a name, if not a clear legal one, then perhaps a moral one.

In this particular case both lines are a bit blurred and in the end, this debate will come down to a matter of opinion.