Feb 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm #1285758
A very disturbing article excerpted out of a book due out soon on just how far companies will go to predict your behavior from collected data. All related to the psychology of habit in both animals and people. #1 story at the NYT.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?src=me&ref=generalFeb 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm #1840323
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I have always known that companies do this, but not to this degree. Not disturbing to me at all. More disturbing is how people can be manipulated by advertising. For example, often the political candidate with the biggest war chest of money wins an election, because of a bigger advertising budget. Most people are upset with the fund raising laws, I am disturbed that ads can influence peoples' votes, when they should be studying the issues and candidates.Feb 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm #1840325
It is pretty shocking how the average person is manipulated by advertising. Black Friday, Super Bowl….amazing.Feb 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm #1840369
Poe's Law states that "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."
For the life of me, I cannot tell if your concern is sincere. If it is, then all I can retort is "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"
Seriously, if you're really this surprised about how the world really works, then perhaps it may be time for you to do a little light reading about Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays.
You see, fast Eddie is considered the father of "public relations". Here's a little snippet from Wiki:
Bernays, working for the administration of Woodrow Wilson during World War I with the Committee on Public Information, was influential in promoting the idea that America's war efforts were primarily aimed at “bringing democracy to all of Europe".
Stunned by the degree to which the democracy slogan had swayed the public both at home and abroad, he wondered whether this propaganda model could be employed during peace time. Due to negative implications surrounding the word propaganda because of its use by the Germans in World War I, he promoted the term "Public Relations".
Bernays felt that the public's democratic judgment was "not to be relied upon" and he feared that "they [the American public] could very easily vote for the wrong man or want the wrong thing, so that they had to be guided from above". This "guidance" was interpreted by Anne to mean that her father believed in a sort of "enlightened despotism" ideology.
Happy trails.Feb 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm #1840371
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
If Target even thinks that I am pregnant, then they are barking up the wrong tree.
For all stores of this ilk, I make all of my transactions using cash so that there is nothing for them to track me with.
–B.G.–Feb 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm #1840383
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"For all stores of this ilk, I make all of my transactions using cash so that there is nothing for them to track me with."
Ah… but how do you know they are not checking the bills for your fingerprints, tapping into your DOD records (military-industrial complex relationship) and tracking your every step in life?
:)Feb 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm #1840390
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
My buying vast quantities of Tums, fertility kits and preggo tests for 4 years was probably a big clue to their marketing.
Lol…….It ain't hard to figure out a woman is trying or is. I get coupons galore in the mail from Target for kid items, can't say it bothers me. I use them.Feb 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm #1840404
I found the article fascinating. I might not appreciate (but am not surprised) with what retailers are doing with the research, but it's fascinating research, and points a way to change longstanding bad habits.Feb 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm #1840409
Yeah Doug it hit me the same way. I put in a request for the book at the library immediately. I just loved how devious the advertising was -inserting lawnmowers to make the offer seem random.Feb 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm #1840425
I resent that Big Brother's brother tracks my shopping habits and yet doesn't realize I'm not pregnant, just big-boned in the stomach bones. Ree-diculous.
This is why I only use cash to buy the spray paint used for taggin' w/mah crew. and a Nixon mask.Feb 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm #1840536
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
A very interesting book is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Basically it discusses how the brain makes many decisions and forms opinions on things without you knowing it. And advertisers use this type of research to shape their campaigns.Feb 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm #1840547
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I've certainly noticed my purchasing being tracked in many ways. My wife's pregnancies and having new infants was the most extreme.
The reverse of bringing children into the world generating a bizzare news story up here.
Suspicious apartment fire. Accelerants were used. One kid died, the other got injuried while jumping out the window to escape the fire. Both kids had sedatives on board.
Safeway's customer data was subpoenaed. On the mother's "Club Card" account, a 5-gallon gasoline can was purchased a week before the fire.
Lose of privacy is generally a bad thing and the billions of hours lost in security-theater lines far exceeds the life expectancy of 3,000 stockbrokers. But someone who should be locked for a long time, now is locked up. Tending very much towards greater civil liberties, I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Editted to add: the mother had purchased life-insurance policies on her school-age children a month prior and had a drug habit.Feb 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm #1840557
This Freakanomics podcast is food for thought regarding money and elections:
Right now it's #6, Does Money Really Buy Elections.Feb 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm #1840568
I work in digital direct marketing. But I wouldn't if the company I worked for didn't have a solid moral underpinning (and it's the most ethical executive team I've ever come to know). But there's definitely a dark side to this stuff that some people use. Those of us on the "good side" of it all are just trying to make sure the advertising money is spent wisely by putting relevant ads in front of people who are actually interested in the products instead of wasting the money on those that aren't. Those on the "dark side" will use this info to try and manipulate you into thinking their's is the only deal in town. The line is thin, but it's there.
And Bob, you use the internet. I don't care that you pay with cash – if enough of the sites you visit were my clients, and I was nefarious enough, I could tell when you need to pee. ;-)Feb 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm #1840570
You know, a couple of months ago, Target could have made a good argument that I might have been pregnant.Feb 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm #1840571
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
I am a big fan of the freakanomics guys. Love there global warming thoughts in super freakanomics. The use of economic analysis to deal with social issues is fantastic.Feb 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm #1840614
@maynard76Locale: New England
Why is my personal info not owned by me? I resent that third partys can spy and collect without my explicit consent and sell said info. If any one should make money on that info it should be me. I think that will be a political fight we will possibly see in the future.Feb 17, 2012 at 12:27 am #1840628
>Why is my personal info not owned by me? I resent that third partys can spy and collect without my explicit consent and sell said info. If any one should make money on that info it should be me.
Fo' Shizzle.Feb 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm #1840868
No smart company, like Target, is selling your personal info. That's not what this article is talking about. This article is talking about analyzing they way you use a company's website and/or retail store, recognizing trends, and promoting products to you based on what they think you're shopping for. If they're giving info about you to any other companies, it's almost always so that that other company can drive a marketing campaign on behalf of the advertiser that targets you as a customer.
Probably the most well-known example of this is a company called Criteo. If you go to Zappos.com and shop around some of their shoes and then leave the site, you'll notice that Zappos is suddenly following you around the internet. That's what Criteo does – they gather data from Zappos and buy ad placements. When you view one of those ad placements, Criteo is like, "Hey, I know this guy, he was on Zappos looking at some sweet New Balance trail runners. I'm going to show him a bunch of trail running shoes."
In this scenario, Zappos wins because their ad money is being spent on an ad that you might actually be interested in. And you, the consumer, wins because you're seeing offers that are actually interesting to you, instead of seeing some ad for some super heavy all leather hiking boots.
Very few companies are selling your personal information these days. Except for magazines – selling customer info is a big part of the magazine business. But outside of magazines, there's just not much of a market for personal info for a couple of reasons. First, your address doesn't tell me nearly as much about you as how you use my site does. If I do my job as a marketer right, it's not all that hard to get your address info, and thus not worth paying for. Second, other info, such as how you use some other site, is always suspect data because we know that you won't necessarily use our site in the same way – there's just too many variables.
all companies do this … or they should if they are smart
everytime you use yr phone, yr telecom is taking a loot at yr spending, calling and data habits to increase yr spend or reduce the possibility of churn …
target is in no way unique …
you can always choose to buy at a mom and pop store if you like …Feb 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm #1840896
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
There was an article I read recently where a woman created a phoney child's name on a form once and it ended up becoming a "real" person as far as advertisers were concerned. She got ads in the mail for baby stuff. Then for little kid stuff. Then for pimple cream and whatnot. Then for college stuff. On and on it went for years like that.Feb 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm #1840910
>"woman created a phoney child's name on a form once"
That's where the bad guys get ya – by getting you to fill in info on a form. Notice that ethical online retailers never have forms except for ordering and for registration, and they ask you if it's ok to share your info when it's registration. In direct marketing, buying info has really fallen out of favor because the results just don't make it worth it. Last time I personally saw it happen, a company I know of bought a list of about 500K email addresses, less than 50 people from that list ever came to the site, and none made a purchase.Feb 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm #1840953
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Surely all of us here have noticed right here on our beloved BPL forum… that whenever you type in some brand name or another… a ad link will follow? Oh so convenient for a "quickie price check" following every post on the Gear Swap!! :)Apr 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm #1872946
I can't believe advertising works on anyone. Almost nothing I own is advertised. I mean what products on this site see any type if advertising?Apr 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm #1872985
@dianodaLocale: Chicago, IL
Advertising occurs on this site all the time, and works to great effect, it's just that the manufacturers and retailers don't pay for it – the product users and prospective users do it for them. BPL users talking about products, reviewing products, recommending products to other users – boiled down, fits nicely into the dictionary definition for advertising.
The UL cottage gear industry wouldn't exist if no one ever talked about their innovations. The kind of talk that frequently occurs here – the kind that can convince someone they need to spend $335+ for an 11oz piece of fabric to use as shelter (with an 6 to 8 week lead time, no less) – if that isn't advertising, then just what is it? :D
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