It’s a simple question. Do you like being indexed cataloged profiled? Almost everyone would answer NO to that question. Yet everyday online and off people share a ton of personal information without even thinking about it. We all do it to some degree. When you sign up for that loyalty card at your favorite store. Enter the latest contest to win something free. Online it’s even easier to hand over your data. Most of the time users are completely unaware of how this gets put to use. Ads targeted to your location, likes and dislikes have started to become the normal way of doing business for some companies. The majority of us don’t read the fine print. So many customers have no idea they may be sharing to much.
Most people would tell you they value their privacy. But when you analyze their behavior another story is told. Many companies and websites have made a habit of making it hard to find settings that will allow you to keep a decent amount of privacy. Even when users are made aware of these most still ignore them. This is exactly what the advertisers and data collectors are counting on. The majority of free social networks and services aren’t really free. Your personal information is being used to create a demographic for advertisers.
A few Internet Service Providers tried to get targeted advertising up and running on their networks. This was met with heavy backlash from privacy advocates. Now the battle has moved to your mobile phone. Apple is the latest to try and sell the public on how targeted advertising improves the user experience. How much of your personal information are you willing to give up in return for more relevant advertising?
Running advertising online is a way of life if you want to make money for your efforts. Being able to run ads without caving into sleazy underhanded practices has been a hard thing to do for years now. Many very popular websites are currently and have in the past abused their readers. Some really well known names have done some less than reputable things to earn a buck. Unfortunately this won’t come as a surprise. Most people would say this is just how business is done. I guess no one cares about having integrity anymore.
The truth is we start getting cataloged and profiled the day we come out of the womb. What is different today is how easy you can access this information. Many of us willingly share this data. Granted the majority of people have no idea how it gets used. They may not even be aware that they should consider what personal facts they are giving out.
I’ve asked in the past if there really has ever been a concept of privacy. Someone somewhere has always had access to personal information we might not wish to share with others. What is interesting is that some people do share this stuff online with no concern. I’m not sure there is anyway to stop this behavior. It just seems to be basic human nature.
Your zip code and other data are being used daily to target advertising. We have all seen examples of this in ads that show a name saying the person is from your area. It’s either they lost weight, loved a certain product or you can date them right now tonight etc etc. Advertisers for years have collected as much data as possible on you to create a marketing profile. In this day in age it has just become easier. Why? Because people just hand this information over freely in many cases.
Most would say “I am not a number I am a free man”. The amount of cataloging, indexing and profiling going on today makes me wonder.
At it’s core advertising is not evil. Making money is a good thing and pays the bills. But companies want to use more and more underhanded marketing practices to hopefully improve sales. These methods must work because companies are wanting to use them. It’s like spam. If someone wasn’t buying the products being offered then spam would go away. There would be no economic advantage for producing it.