The world is currently debating whether being stalked by Google and then being offered a photo album is a cool thing or a massive invasion of privacy. While the debate is going on, it is happening. And, like ATMs and bank branches, we will accept it whether we like it or not.
Facebook has just issued its users with new privacy terms and conditions, which say that ‘you are in charge,’ while looking further into how to better target adverts at you.
Google (other search engines are available) knows what you are looking for.
TV can now work out whether you like bacon and live in Southern Florida (although the WSJ that tells us this still thinks a pay wall is a good idea before you’ve read one article).
Operators know where you are, roughly what you are doing (travelling at 70 mph will give them a clue) and what device you use. And, the demographic stuff you give them when you sign up.
Add all these threads together and you have an incredibly powerful map of what everyone who is connected is thinking, doing and probably about to do.
And for those who think that all this is a massive invasion of privacy, just wait until that offer arrives that is just at the moment you were thinking, ‘OK, so I need….’
In the meantime we will continue to be irritated by well intentioned offers that were really badly timed.
Imagine, though, an operator linking up with a travel website. The operator would know where customers were going, when they were going and how. They would know whether customers were big users of data, whether they tended to turn data off when travelling. And respond intelligently. Perhaps a cautious customer might be offered a large slab of data for $5 the week. Perhaps the customer might be offered free data for his wife, who is a small data user but does love Facebook.
If TV can figure out what you like to eat, then almost anything seems possible. What needs to happen though, is that our industry stops reaching immediately for big technology to crunch big data and start working on scenarios where customers are not going to be turned off. Because if they get turned off, they will switch channels.