Your Secrets? No Such Thing.

Data Harvesting is a topic I am exploring through visual series of ads generated in Phoster.
I have poster today but this article is way better than a picture. I did myself a favor and educated myself quite a bit by reading Duhigg’s piece. Pretty revealing stuff.

Today The New York times posted this article.
How Companies Learn Your Secrets by 

[…]The science of habit formation has become a major field of research in neurology and psychology departments at hundreds of major medical centers and universities, as well as inside extremely well financed corporate labs.

[…]One Target employee I spoke to provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. What’s more, because of the data attached to her Guest ID number, Target knows how to trigger Jenny’s habits. They know that if she receives a coupon via e-mail, it will most likely cue her to buy online. They know that if she receives an ad in the mail on Friday, she frequently uses it on a weekend trip to the store. And they know that if they reward her with a printed receipt that entitles her to a free cup of Starbucks coffee, she’ll use it when she comes back again.

[…]Using data to predict a woman’s pregnancy, Target realized soon after Pole perfected his model, could be a public-relations disaster. So the question became: how could they get their advertisements into expectant mothers’ hands without making it appear they were spying on them? How do you take advantage of someone’s habits without letting them know you’re studying their lives?

[…]After someone pointed out that some of those women might be a little upset if they received an advertisement making it obvious Target was studying their reproductive status, everyone decided to slow things down.
[…]“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”

8 responses to “Your Secrets? No Such Thing.

  1. I know they know everything we do. Our habits – it is open to them no matter what we do to try to hide anything. Scary, wrong and I am just waiting for the time when they want us to be implanted with chips or else. That’s when I go off the grid and hide.

    • Internet is here to stay as well as data mining.
      But we consumers must have say how private we want to be. It is all about balance. There have to be laws to protect the consumers. Right now, everything/everyone is for grabs.

      Thank you for your enlightening thought.

  2. Great play on words in the image !

    I have no doubt that many truly don;t have any idea how something like this works and how they more less unknowingly become victims.

  3. You’re image is a perfect addition to the series. Public is the new privacy it seems – and I’ll fight it every step of the way. It’s why I don’t use store-based credit cards or so-called benefits cards (exception is groceries because I don’t give a hoot what they think of my eating habits) 🙂 When I buy something online I do it as a “guest” and purposely uncheck the box where they ask, “Would you like to receive information on products and discounts by email?” These corporations want to know all our secrets but they don’t want to divulge any of their own.

  4. I wonder what happens when the masses have no money to buy? Then what? To whom do they market? Whom do they data mine? And do they mine the poor for other things?

  5. Great post!

    If more people would only use several percent more of their brainpower….

    Big Brother has been tracking us for many years now. It’s the reason for such huge numbers of government employees, and quite frankly, I wish this situation could somehow be resolved.

    Such a GROSS INVASION of our right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’!

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