Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stalker Ads...

Imagine the following scenario: you receive a phone call from a close friend, who tells you that "some people" have been coming around and asking questions about you. What kind of food do you eat? What clothes do you wear? Where do you like to shop? How much do you usually spend?

What's more, it turns out these unknown people aren't talking to just one friend. In fact, they're talking to lots of people. They want to know what kind of beer you drink, what TV shows you watch, how often you eat fast food.

You finally track one of these anonymous question-askers down and you confront him. Instead of denying his activities or apologizing, he says, "Yes, I have been following and asking questions of all the people you know, delving into your spending habits."

Would that bother you?

Now imagine he says this: "I have to tell you, following you around and asking people questions about your spending sure is time consuming. would you mind carrying around this little plastic card and using it whenever you shop? That way I can automatically build a database of all your spending habits so that I can figure out how to best target advertising directly to you. Tailer-made to present the most psycholigically effective advertisments directly to you."

Would you use the card? What if they promised that if you used the card you would get all kinds of free stuff? How much "free stuff" does it take for you to surrender your privacy to an organization who's stated goal is to figure out what advertising you are most vulnerable to and then use that information against you?

It's called Air Miles.

Nothing is free ... especially when lawyers tell you it is.