Someone has come up with a genius -- and slightly terrifying -- way food companies could send ads to your internet fridge

Internet-connected refrigerators have been the tech story of the last 20 years. Fridges that automatically order food when you run out, or send selfies of their contents when you’re at the supermarket are on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

Now someone has come up with a way the ad tech community can get involved.

Ciaran O’Kane, cofounder of ad tech news and research company ExchangeWire, has created a tongue-in-cheek-yet-mildly-terrifying diagram of what the programmatic internet-connected fridge ad auction might look like.

Behold the “Cheddar Cheese Internet of Things Real-time Bidding Auction”:

As the diagram explains, internet-connected fridge owners would opt in for offers from food companies and retailers. They’d also connect their fridge with their preferred online grocery service — Amazon, for example.

Whenever they run out of a specific product — cheese, say — a bunch of cheese companies could enter an auction to bid to advertise their product to the user.

The highest bidder would see their ad (in this instance) sent via push notification to the user’s preferred messaging app. A WhatsApp messaging saying: “Lara! You’ve run out of cheese! Click here to order our delicious mature cheddar half-price.”

The request then gets sent to Amazon and the cheese is added to their next grocery order.

What makes this so genius is that it doesn’t actually require any new tech. The “cheddar cheese RTB auction” could easily be adopted today. What’s slightly terrifying is the sheer thought of a new cottage industry: internet fridge ad tech. Washing machine ad networks. RTB toaster auctions.

But providing user data, trust and ad load is not abused, advertisers could actually provide a real utility to users through their internet-connected household items.

As O’Kane writes: “As we grapple with the growth of ad blocking on web-based applications, it would seem counterintuitive to suggest users would make this kind of information freely available. Nobody likes being sold to — especially in a cack-handed way like retargeting. The reality is, people need stuff; and if there is the potential of a discount there is likely to be a lot of uptake. Explicit intent and push notification is going to be a sweet spot for programmatic.”

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