Convenience vs. Creepy: Should Consumers Worry?

Companies that desire your business need to keep it friendly and personal, not creepy!

According to the most recent Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, there is a general rise in concern that voice activated devices are invading our privacy. People are beginning to wonder if they are always listening. Is every word being recorded? And, where does all that information go? The answer to the first and second questions is yes. The answer to the third question, I’ll answer in this article.

Recently, I had a friend tell me that privacy isn’t something they worry about because, “they have nothing to hide.” and they can just tell their device to “delete their daily conversations.” Many folks share this philosophy and will happily continue to use their voice activated devices for everything from playing a music list to setting a timer telling them when to flip their steaks on the grill.

However, for a large portion of consumers, these types of devices feel intrusive and even creepy. They don’t want to feel like they are being stalked for information. With increased hacking and worrying that “Big Brother” may be listening, these consumers will be very slow to accept a voice activated device.

But what most consumers don’t realize is that, they are already being stalked for information when using their phone, an app, a coupon, tablet, computer, TV and even their car radio. Because now every day and in every way, third party data collection companies are monitoring or attempting to monitor your every move and purchase so they can sell that information to others who want to find “you”!

And, while having your personal information gathered seems creepy, there are benefits to having your information “tracked.” An example of the benefits is your GPS. When your mobile GPS realizes that you drive to the same address Monday through Friday during the same hours, it realizes that it is likely your place of employment and will begin to alert you of your commute time every day, even if you didn’t ask. It will warn you of an accident and offer you a detour route.

When visiting Google, you’ll see it suggest stories that you may be interested in, based on your search and YouTube viewing history. Services like these seem less intrusive and helpful, however in reality you’re still being stalked for your data.
All this data is being used for many purposes and one main area of utilization is in advertising. Advertising through various forms of media and third-party data collection companies, creates advertising that is highly targeted to your specific interest, desires and needs.

Amazon for example, is best known for targeted advertising with their “other items you may enjoy” options. They track your user history and using algorithms, attempt to create a personal customer experience in the hopes to sell you more products.

Netflix uses consumer data to make specific show suggestions, “you may be interested in.” Not only do they make suggestions, but they change the still frame visual to what they believe will engage you to increase your viewership time by watching more of their shows and movies. All this is accomplished by monitoring and tracking usage and then selling and sharing it with other third-party data collectors.

It’s time we face it. A vast amount of our lives is already on some company’s server and will be soon sold and shared with many other company servers. It’s our new reality and it will only get worse. And, why you ask? Because we demanded it by wanting everything at our fingertips and we got it. We just didn’t realize when we made these demands that they were going to lift our fingerprints.

Technology is moving faster than the law, our understanding of its effects and just about everything else. These companies are set to make billions upon billions tracking and selling your info and there really is very little you can do to change that.

However, there is one component every company better understand whether they sell the information or use the information for client’s services. Human emotion should never be underestimated nor removed from any advertising strategy. It’s still the one real live wire in this sea of data and the smartest companies, CEO’s CMOs and agencies know this.

Data will help you find folks, but emotional connections will keep them coming back and no matter your company’s size you’re best to never forget that. Only then does everyone win!

Author: Frank Gussoni

President & Founder of A3 media. We're Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.