You may soon need to install a thermostat or fridge adblocker

Martin Brinkmann
May 21, 2014
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google

Ads, they are everywhere on the Internet, on television, radio, on the street and in magazines. One safe haven remains, and that is your home, provided that you are not browsing the Internet, watching TV, listening to radio or reading magazines.

That's about to change though if Google gets its way. In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, sent in December but disclosed yesterday, it confirmed that it had plans to bring advertisement to "refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, watches" and other devices and locations a few years from now.

Google believes that its advertising systems will become more and more device-agnostic and the company plans to aid advertisers with new enhanced campaigns that make things as easy as possible for them to deliver ads to all supported devices.

Diversifying the company's advertisement portfolio, from being almost exclusively web and mobile based, is the next logical step in making sure that revenue growth continues.

While ads on the Internet, TV and radio are a normality for most users, it is likely that ads on household items will face stronger resistance than the company expects.

Google devices are already used in many homes, from Chromebooks or the Chromecast to mobile devices and Nest thermostats. There is also Google Glass which gets some traction right now, Android watches which will come out eventually, and the company's cooperation with car manufacturers to bring Android powered dashboards to transportation devices.


New locations to display advertisement may provide Google with additional insight, something which is not available to the company right now.

As far as the refrigerator goes, you may see cookbook ads, ads for grocery stores in your vicinity, or mouthwatering dishes that make you head out to the restaurant serving them immediately. The thermostat may display ads for warm clothing for example. Google may also use the information to display ads to you on the web or on your devices.

So what can you do about that?

The most obvious option is to avoid products that ship with these features directly or with capabilities to deliver these features to those devices through updates.

It is not clear how Google plans to deliver ads to those devices. The most plausible option would be via a device's wireless connectivity functionality.

If you can turn those off, or block the device from using those, then you may also be able to block ads running on the household item.

What is your take on this? Would you install a thermostat or fridge in your home that may display advertisement to you?


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  1. Swapnil said on May 23, 2014 at 8:04 am

    As I see it, if it indeed does become common, it can be beneficial if the prices of the “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, watches” goes down, because then they would become cheaper and of course people can block the ads either by cutting off the wires for Wi-Fi (in devices that do not have any other Internet services) or as people in the comments above mentioned – blocking ad providers from W-Fi routers.

    1. Jan said on May 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      And so they wouldn’t become less cheaper because of this unreliability. What we can imagine is that for some functionnalities, it will recquire internet connection, and would throw ads in your face at that moment.

      Anyway, what ads make you win here, they make you pay there when you buy the product (even if you would have bought it without any freakin’ ad) ; so it’s definitely not something beneficial in general – it can be to keep alive things which depends only of that (say this website) ; but this is clearly not the case of refregirators or others.

  2. yronnen said on May 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    The answer is simple: don’t use it (whatever it is).

    If a thermostat tries to sell you a laundry detergent, don’t buy it. If Amazon forces you to may an additional fee to get rid of the “Special offers”, don’t buy it. Consumers have the ultimate power since it’s their decision to pull money out of their wallets, but most of them (of us…) would buy those things and then complain about them.

  3. BBB said on May 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Yes I would probably use them, on a separate sub-net which has no direct outside access. what would and addblocker.
    My own notifications and command I would relay and do heavy filtering on that.

  4. Andrew/ said on May 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I cancelled my cable subscription when the adverts got too much, I recall watching one film and it was 5 minutes of adverts followed by seven minutes of film for over 30 minutes, I was loosing track of the plot so I’ve cancelled and I don’t miss it at all – I’ll buy any I want to watch on DVD/BR or may be try Netflix or even [shock horror] go to the movie theatre!

    Another evening, I recall seeing exactly the same advert twice in a row and over 12 times [before I stopped counting] during the evening – I emailed the advertiser asking if their product was so bad that they felt the need to advertise it so much, I did not recieve a reply!

    If I search and a page opens with an auto-play ad I just close the page, especially if it has sound – it’s disturbing what I want to listen to!

  5. Ficho said on May 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Martin,it looks like because of Anti-Adblock Killer | Reek (version 7.2) userscript, home page is just blank.
    I don’t know how to contact author of the script because of the problems with
    Problem exists in Pale Moon/Firefox (Greasemonkey) and Opera Dev (Violentmonkey).

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Must be a bug, I don’t implement anti-adblock scripts. You can report issues here:

  6. berttie said on May 21, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    >to bring advertisement to “….., car dashboards,

    Oh, goodie, just what me need, another distraction for drivers. Perhaps it’ll target those who aren’t too busy texting to keep their eyes on the road.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      Maybe something like this: Your fridge says that you are low on milk. The satnav will direct you to the nearest partner market where you can make the purchase.

      We did notice that the average room temperature has increased by x degrees. Here are some recommendations for warm clothing, blankets and soup that you can buy there as well.

      Press sync to synchronize the shopping list to your Android phone.

  7. Oxa said on May 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I’m with JohnMWhite. I’m fed up with ads. I use an adblocker (Sorry, Martin and other website owners), turn off the sound when commercials come on TV, and switch the station when the radio starts blaring its obnoxious commercials. Considering the satiation effect (, I really wonder how effective ads are when they’re ubiquitous. (How many people can remember a clever or funny commercial, but can’t remember what it was for?) What is probably unsaid in Google’s letter to the SEC is that in addition to placing ads on these devices, Google will be hoovering up data on the habits of their users, which is even more outrageous.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      I understand where you are coming from but as someone who earns his living from this blog it is tough to swallow. There are other ways to support this site though, maybe that’s an alternative.

      1. BBB said on May 22, 2014 at 2:47 pm

        I’m running addblock specifically to block those annoying social crap links.
        That are the 10 things my add blocker blocks.
        i hope you don’t get paid for those, but i’m totally fed up with them.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on May 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm

        The social links are static images and links here on the site, not scripts. They don’t track anything because of that.

      3. Oxa said on May 22, 2014 at 12:47 am

        I was about to whitelist your site on ABP, until I saw what it was blocking on this page:

        Blocked items on this page:
        21 out of 44 (also whitelisted: 8; hidden: 12)


      4. Martin Brinkmann said on May 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

        I’m only running Adsense right now on this site and Analytics.

      5. JohnMWhite said on May 22, 2014 at 12:27 am

        Are there any ‘good’ ad networks out there that more conscious bloggers/webmasters could tie themselves into? I’d whitelist sites and view their ads if I had a promise that I wouldn’t have to deal with obnoxious noises, auto-play videos and the odd malware infestation. Unfortunately most of the time I see bloggers or site owners shrugging their shoulders at these issues and going “nothing I can do about the ads being so bad”. For those without the disposable income to become patrons, perhaps it would be a good middle ground to continue supporting sites whose content they appreciate.

      6. Martin Brinkmann said on May 22, 2014 at 8:07 am

        The problem is that there is no real alternative to Google Adsense. I tried many different services and they are all far worse revenue wise. Adsense ads are not abusive though, at least not that I know of.

        I have created the membership option as an alternative to that. I can understand if you want to run an adblocker on the Internet, but if you like a site, you can show your support for it in other ways as well.

        Whitelisting is one option, which I do if I like a site and the ads are not obtrusive. So, no auto-playing videos (with or without sound), popups, in-between page ads, expanding ads, blinking ads and so on.

        If an ad is annoying and it gets reported to me, I can ban it on Adsense.

  8. Tom Hawack said on May 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    This, the Internet of things, is becoming a small circle debate, bound to expand shortly or not as it will react as usual once the infrastructure is in place.

    As I see it, if there is any choice left to the user of whatever device, appliance, and I’m half between hope and doubt, that choice may be smiling if it has an effect on the device’s price. Would I accept riding with a car covered with ads ? No ! 10% off ? … 20 ?

    Problem with targeted advertizement is the target, not to mention ad’s brainwashing. I mean, having a connected bed remind me about the condom would be intrusive at most :)

    Hard to be objective when we are concerned. I have no idea how people will react, I ignore what majorities are in many areas, even more therefor in new domains of society. I do now that a human being, even animals by the way, have the skill to adapt themselves. A skill or a resignation : if you can’t beat them, join them ? Perhaps life is less binary and it is indeed possible to find a little piece of green grass where you neither beat nor join.

    Me ? I’m fed up with advertizement. With the way it proceeds when it could be less, better and more productive. So, with an Internet of things tied up to an extra layer of ads, I really don’t see my face in that circus.

  9. BKV said on May 21, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Adverts are blocked straight from my router, and once I find a new ad-provider, it goes on there.
    No adverts for me either on XBL, my phones or whatnot.

  10. Brian said on May 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    That makes perfect sense considering that Android tablets are little more than adware pushing devises. I own one and it has made it mostly useless to me.

    1. sades said on May 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Root it, take control.

  11. leon said on May 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    i would actually buy one of those devices if the ads will pay for the devices(or just a part)

    i can always remove it from the wifi network

  12. Andrew said on May 21, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Yay internet of things! /s

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      The more I read about it, the more I want to pull the plug.

      1. Buffet said on May 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm


      2. JohnMWhite said on May 21, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        Me too. I cannot stomach TV ads any more; on the rare occasion I actually watch something as it airs, I mute them and do something else. I might miss a few seconds of the show when it comes back, but virtually nothing is that unmissable. Maybe Game of Thrones, which doesn’t have commercials. Huh. It’s almost as if high quality television programming were possible to produce without hawking drugs and cars at us every six minutes.

        Meanwhile a non-adblocked browser is just an assault. Internet advertising is absolute saturation coupled with desperation and unyielding disrespect for users. I can’t read a news article without some unsolicited video yelling in my ears. It is an obscenity to me, so I block everything I can. And I feel kind of bad about that, because content providers need some way to earn something from their content, but the advertisers have utterly poisoned the well with their obnoxiousness and grasping nature. One thing that really put me over the edge was my cable’s on demand system, which has endless commercials in the corner even while I am browsing the menu for content I’m about to pay for. I just mute it, but the kicker is you only have a minute or two before it unmutes, just to make sure you keep hearing advertisements if you went to the bathroom or something. First world problems and all that, of course, but there is nothing good that can come of that behaviour. It switches me off completely. We have enough commercials thrown in our face every day even when we try to avoid them, the last thing that is needed is to be advertised at when we’re grabbing a midnight snack or turning up the heat. Give it a rest, advertisers, you’re only watering down your own effectiveness.

      3. Pants said on May 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm
        Reply .. enjoy .. Quantified Toilets: Capturing toilet behaviour for real-time data and health analysis.
        (^^^ its not real, it’s satire – but I can see it happening)

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm

        Yeah I read about that, funny ;)

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