Picture this. You’re 16 years old, having a pajama birthday party, watching some television with your friends, talking about how fun 16 will be, and how delicious a pizza sounds right now, but how you hate what it does to your pubescent skin. Your friends empathize with you, and then you transition to talking about how fun it would be to t.p. your cute neighbor’s house.
Your chick flick cuts to a commercial break, and it’s a commercial for Dominos! Wow, good timing. That rolls right into a commercial about Pro-Active acne treatment. What are the chances? That is followed by a State Farm teenage drivers insurance incentive ad. Suspicious. Last but not least, those cute little Charmin bears tell you to pick them up when you have to go. Whoah.
Then you see it. A text message in the corner of your television screen that reads:
“We are watching you.”
It may sound a bit 1984 to you, but it’s actually looking more like 2014. The “We Are Watching You Act” is currently being discussed in Congress. The bill has not yet been passed, but it’s sparked a debate and is speculated to gain a fair amount of support. Marketers such as AOL and Verizon are working to install cameras and microphones in users’ cable boxes to better serve them with personalized advertisements. The box can detect through conversation and action what advertisements to show you.
I suppose this is no great surprise with all of the intrusive data tactics currently employed in digital marketing. Marketers are very excited about this opportunity to capitalize on this new definition of direct marketing.
Being in the marketing industry, I am all for having data to back up your marketing plan; but as a human being, I have to ask how far is too far? Food for thought: If you have to spy on your target audience to sell them your product, maybe they aren’t your target audience. And maybe you need to rethink the success of your brand.