Australian video-streamer lets users opt out of ads for burgers, booze, and betting

All without reducing the effectiveness of data-driven targeting, dammit

Australia’s SBS will allow users of its video streaming services to opt out of ads for burgers, booze, and betting.

SBS commenced operations in 1975 as the “Special Broadcasting Service”, a name that reflected its mission to reach Australia’s ethnic communities with programming in multiple languages. A television station followed in 1979, again featuring multilingual programming. Content in many tongues remains a staple for the broadcaster, which is granted much of its revenue by Australia’s government but also runs paid ads.

Plenty of those ads appear on SBS On Demand, the broadcaster’s free streaming service.

But as of Q1 2024, users will be able to opt out of ads for purveyors of wagering, alcoholic beverages and quick service restaurants.

All three industries are controversial in Australia, a nation where sports betting companies have become utterly ubiquitous and are expected to soon have their marketing activities restricted by the federal government amid fears the prevalence of their promotions will worsen already-concerning rates of problem gambling.

Australia also suffers from widespread obesity, making quick service restaurants and their ads on the nose with health policy wonks. The Register feels no need to elucidate Australian drinking habits.

SBS has pitched the opt-out option as a win for both viewers and advertisers. The former group won’t see some ads they don’t like, meaning advertisers won’t waste their spend on a hostile audience.

Or as SBS Media national manager for operations and commercial product Lee Callagher put it: “This ensures that brand dollars are served to the most receptive and engaged audiences.”

Opting out of booze, burgers, and bets also won’t diminish SBS’s ad-targeting powers. Callagher boasted that a partnership with Experian, and advertisers’ data, means the broadcaster “can measure the success of driving your target audience from SBS on Demand through to purchase.”

So go ahead, opt out but don't expect much to change - SBS probably already knows you don't want fries with that. ®

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