Beware: You are being watched!

December 7, 2010
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You just checked into a hotel – they watched you walk in from the parking lot and had your folio ready for you. That is awesome service. You proceed to your room – non-smoking, king size – just as you like it. They now watch your every move, they know what you are watching on TV, they know what you ordered from room service, and they know what sites you visited on the web. They knew you because of your past stays, and now they are tracking your every move to try and personalize your experiences even more.

You have offers being slid under your door, being served up on your TV, targeted ads on your computer, personalized messaging in the elevator, and the manager ‘bumped’ into you on three different occasions. Her offers to you were relevant. You seem not to mind because the offers were relevant.

You drive away the next morning in your rental car. They are listening to your conversation as they track every turn. Billboards change their messaging for you as you drive by. An advertiser starts speaking to you on the radio. You are a little freaked out as you scurry for cover diving into a restaurant.

You slip into a corner asking for a cup of java. The reality is that you really cannot get away because your phone knows and conveys your presence. It allows geo targeting and your server knows that it is one cream two sugars. The jukebox strikes up your favorite tune and the server asks if you would like their fruit crepe combo.

You have never been to this restaurant, it is not art of a chain, but they subscribe to the Preference Factory – one of many companies that sell personalized consumer data on demand. The Preference Factory pulls your data – tracking you across real and virtual channels. Your virtual channels include digital, mobile, and social.

You try to get away into a crowd stepping into the mall. You are reminded about your spouse’s birthday with an offer to pick up the perfect gift from a favorite retailer. The perfect gift is an outfit that was in your spouse’s preference center. You are then given an option of sending a birthday card that even plays your favorite song!

You think about your kids and are scared that they are also being tracked. The song grows louder as you wake up in a cold sweat. Was this a dream or was it reality?

This is a choice we are going to make as consumers – how much are we willing to be monitored. Do we want the convenience of personalization or do we want our own space back!

The FTC just introduced a proposed framework around protecting consumer privacy. This proposed legislation is also being called the ‘Do Not Track’ legislation. Take a look at the legislation and join us as we continue this conversation of the pros and cons of being tracked!