3 Creepy Ways Marketers are Conjuring Your Personal Data

This is the time of year when we watch hours of horror movies and listen to Halloween-themed music on our streaming apps. We search the stores for candy and go online to shop for the best costumes. Halloween is a fun time to share stories that can make us think twice before going to bed.  One of the spookiest (and true) tales of all, is that your technology is tracking your every move; building a profile of your behaviors in order to help marketers to reach you with eerily accurate advertisements.  Realizing this is like reliving the moment in the movie “When a Stranger Calls” where the operator tells the poor woman that the threatening caller is “inside of the house”.  Here are some creepy ways that your own phone (along with other technology) is keeping tabs on you in the name of marketing.  Your Device Can Almost Guess your Next Purchase.

Your Device Tries to Predict Your Next Purchase

 While browsing for the Halloween costume that you want, an ad (for the very outfit that you were just telling your friend about) suddenly appears on your screen. Coincidence…. Right?  Wrong. Have you heard of predictive analytics?  More companies are using data based on customers’ past behaviors from first click on a webpage to order completed, so they can predict future purchase patterns. E-commerce uses predictive analytics to push more advertisements to their customers. They’ll often do this by serving ads to your smartphone at times that you are using specific applications. Many people are familiar with Amazon’s recommendations, which are mostly based on past purchases and browsing history. Now, with their Chrome extension, Amazon Assistant, their reach extends to the entirety of the Internet.  Amazon has recently gotten into some hot water over their product, Alexa, listening and recording very personal conversations. She’s not the only one guilty of keeping an ear on the ground… Marketers Use the Microphone in Your Phone to Listen to TV Audio.

Marketers Use the Microphone in Your Phone to Listen to TV Audio

The New York Times published a report that certain apps use a software called Alphonso to track your whereabouts as well as to listen for TV audio through your phone’s microphone. Mobile devices and many of their apps use location tracking software. Google stores your most frequented destinations and places you’ve visited using Google Maps in order to give you recommendations (iPhone users can view their most frequented locations through their phone settings). They then sell this data to advertisers for better, more precisely targeted ads. Can they even do that? Yes, and you signed off on it. It seems invasive, but this clause of making a profit off of your data is hidden in the privacy policies of your devices and applications.  When you click “I accept” to the terms and conditions, this is really what you’re agreeing to. You may find yourself staring at your screen at the office, when Siri suddenly sends a tempting notification that reads similarly to this, “It would take you 15 minutes to get home from here”, and now you know why.  They Use Robots to Keep You Happy When You Contact Customer Service.

 Robots Are Replacing Customer Service Representatives

Arguably one of the creepiest things on our list is the fact that you may have had an entire conversation with a robot, but did not realize that it wasn’t actually someone named Karen from customer service that you were chatting with.  This is because certain algorithms have gotten so good, that robots can sometimes have better customer service results than experienced representitives. According to a Mindshare report, 63% of respondents prefer speaking to a chatbot. This is understandable, because customers want service around the clock, as well as to receive answers to their questions. Chatbots are reliable, know your purchase history, and won’t be short with you. Mastercard has a Facebook chatbot that uses a program to decode the customer’s wants and needs in the chat, so it can respond “naturally” and handle payments.  This way of customer service won’t change, because by 2022, chatbots are expected to save $22 billion per year for companies. One day, they may know you better than you know yourself.

        These developments may be frightening. However, they are extremely successful tactics in the marketing world when trying to garner action and response from consumers. A SmarterHQ report reveals that 72% of people will only engage with personalized marketing.  At the same time, 86% are concerned about privacy. Businesses need to walk a fine line between creepy marketing and personalized marketing. Personalized marketing can be great for creating unique and bespoke experiences for customers by only capturing personal consumer data that is relevant to the brand. No one enjoys feeling like they are getting stalked, so don’t take it too far, or you’ll be another creepy business.  If you have questions about how to effectively market, while still maintaining respect for your consumer’s privacy, reach out to The MBC Group, LLC, to book an appointment or use our online chat… if you dare.  Just kidding, we promise that only humans are using our chat box.

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