This Company Might Be Listening to Everything You Watch on TV

Alphonso Inc.

Sarvesh Mathi


Photo: Oleksandr Shchus/Getty Images

IImagine you’re out with your friends and the topic of mattresses randomly comes up. You pitch in, someone hints that they are looking to buy one, and the conversation swiftly moves on. The next day you’re browsing the internet and bam! Mattress ads suddenly start creeping up on every page.

These kinds of stories are no longer just Big Brother-style dystopian fiction. More and more people are experiencing the same, and you might have a similar story as well. A popular theory to explain all this is that your phone is stealthily listening to you, so it knows what you’re looking for. But these claims have not been proven, and social media companies vehemently deny it. The truth is that we’re already giving companies like Facebook and Google so many signals when we let the apps track our location and searches that they have more than enough information for ad targeting.

Still, it’s an eerie experience to see ads on your phone for products related to the shows you are watching on TV. For example, seeing ads for Avengers merchandise the day after you’ve watched the movie. Or seeing the same TV ads show up on your phone and laptop. You could dismiss it as a coincidence, but it is most likely not. Enter Alphonso.