Paid Programming: Investigating streaming ads during the election season

Paid Programming: Investigating streaming ads during the election season

Sling TV

Sling TV logo

Sling TV is an American video subscription- and ad-supported streaming service owned by DISH Network that operates in the U.S. Sling TV had 2.25 million subscribers as of August 2020.

overall-grade-f.jpg

Overall grade

our-analysis.jpg

Our analysis

When it comes to political advertising and preventing abuse, Sling TV seems not to have any real roadblocks in place.



Political Ads

D.png

Partial grade: D

In terms of political ads, Sling TV outsources decisions to other ad networks and platforms, which amplifies the potential for harm or abuse. In addition, Sling doesn't seem to have made their policies around political ads publicly available.

Does it allow political ads?
Yes

What are its rules for placing political ads?
It's unclear what rules Sling has for running political ads on the platform. Sling TV is a participant in an ad-selling consortium called D2 Media, which runs its political ads. Sling also works with third party supply-side platforms (SSPs) like SpotX, which have their own rules in place for vetting.

Do political advertisers need to verify their identity in order to place ads?
Unknown

Does it clearly mark political ads?
Unknown

Does it require a "paid for" disclosure for political ads?
Unknown

Does it fact-check or otherwise vet political ads?
Unknown



Ad Transparency

F.png

Partial grade: F

Sling provides no transparency tools to support real-time monitoring or analysis. An ad library with complete, real-time data is critical to researchers and election watchdogs ensuring the integrity of the platform.

Does it voluntarily report ad spend?
No

Does it have a public ad transparency library? (See our guidelines)
No

Does that library include ALL ads, not just political ads?
N/A


Ad Targeting

D.png

Partial grade: D

Sling pulls in a great deal of data about viewers from third party data sources to power its ad tech platform. Sling does not appear to have any roadblocks in place to prevent advertisers from targeting people based on sensitive data.

Does the platform allow political advertisers to target you based on:

Genre
(e.g. contextual ads)
Yes

Demographics
Yes. Political advertisers can target by age range and gender.

Location
Yes

Interests & Behaviors (e.g. TV viewing data)
Yes. D2 Media allows political advertisers to target people based on a set of attributes and categories.

Custom audiences (e.g. advertiser uploads 1st party data)
Yes

Audience/Customer Matching (e.g. platform matches 3rd party data to existing customers)
Yes. Sling TV matches its customer data with third party data pulled in from data brokers like LiveRamp (formerly Acxiom) to create custom segments. Political advertisers can target people based on causes they support, their political party affiliation, whether they are a registered voter, or whether they have cast their ballot already.

Lookalike/Similar audiences (e.g. platform finds new, "similar" audience segments)
Unknown

Behavioral segments (e.g. inferred characteristics)
Yes. Sling allows political advertisers to target people based on a set of inferred attributes and categories. Using a supply-side platform (SSP) like SpotX, advertisers on Sling can target categories such as “vacationers,” potential car customers, and students.


Potential Abuse

D.png

Partial grade: D

The ad networks and third party platforms Sling works with seem to have some basic protections in place. However, it's difficult to know exactly what steps Sling is taking to prevent abuse because the platform does not have public information available about its policies.

Does it have a self-service platform?
Yes

Does the platform allow for negative targeting or blacklisting?
Unknown

What steps is the platform taking to prevent abuse?
Unknown


User Control

D.png

Partial grade: D

Users cannot opt out of political ads, nor do they get information about how they are targeted.

Can users opt out of political ads?
No. Users can opt out of targeted ads but there's no guarantee that they will stop seeing ads.

Can users get access to information about how they are being targeted?
No

Can users request deletion of their data?
Some users can. California residents can delete their data through Dish's Privacy Portal.

This is part of a broader movement for a healthy internet. See more.