Roku's New Interactive Roku TV Pop-Up Ads During Commercials Raise Eyebrows

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It's becoming harder and harder to find TVs these days that aren’t "smart" straight from the factory. Smart TVs with their integrated internet connectivity and media platforms make it easier for hardware OEMs to track your viewing habits (by default) and make additional revenue from advertising.

Roku is looking to take its ad-related business to the next level with new pop-ups that are delivered to customers when commercials are playing on their Roku TVs. The folks over at Cord Cutter News noticed that Roku has recently started placing pop-up ads during commercial breaks during both cable TV and over-the-air programming on Roku TVs.

roku tv ghost town
(Image courtesy Cord Cutter News)

In the image seen above, an advertisement for the long-running TV show Ghost Town popped up during a Geico Halloween commercial. As the pop-up states, Ghost Town is sponsored in part by Geico, and users are given the ability to quickly set a reminder using their remote to watch the show.

This is a rather in-your-face move by Roku to get your attention with interactive ads, although it remains to be seen how users will react to them. For me personally, I usually zone out during commercial breaks regardless and tap on my smartphone until the show comes back on, so chances are that I would probably totally miss these pop-ups. However, for those that have eyes on the screen at all times, it could either be a welcome addition to the viewing experience or just another annoyance.

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roku tv settings 1

With that being said, there is a way to disable these pop-ups altogether. As the publication notes, you can simply navigate to Settings --> Privacy --> Smart TV Experience and disable the Use Information From TV Inputs option. While hardware enthusiasts like those reading HotHardware have probably already disabled this feature, it's likely that the general popular is oblivious to this "kill switch".

With that being said, Cord Cutter News says that they first started seeing these pop-ups appear with the new Roku OS 9.2 update. However, commenters have confirmed that they are also appearing in the older Roku OS 9.1 release. In addition, this new "feature" is only limited to Roku TVs, and not standalone Roku streaming devices.