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Madison Ave. Mind control or public service ?

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posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 12:49 PM
I haven't posted here for many moons, but thought this may be of interest to those who wonder - or for that matter not even know - how they are being targeted and influenced by the boys on Madison Avenue.

I have worked in the Advertising industry for over 30 years. Recently I was approached by a well known Multi National Ad agency to possibly go work with them. During these discussions I was shown an office that they had recently built. It contained wall to wall flat screen monitors showing various live feeds from several Internet websites that were related in someway to products that the Agency promoted for their clients. Each screen had an inset window that showed numbers tabulating in real time. This I was told reflected the activity on the pages being displayed - Click through's, hits, referrals,avg time at location etc etc -.Sadly there is nothing unusual or novel about data mining. It is with us and will never go away,but thats just the tip of the iceberg.

As part of the minning process, every "Hit" has it's incoming IP address captured and cataloged. Every RSS feed IP is similarly captured, processed, and cross referenced with several other "search engine" portals, all with the intent of identifying patterns of travel from the incoming IP address. Again no great revelation there. I'am sure most people know its going on, but don't really see it as a issue.

The information derived from these excersises is where it gets interesting.

IP addresses, for a price, can be readily converted to real world addresses. This is incredibly useful for an advertiser as it allows them to Tag consumers, customize what they see, and prepare them to be unwittingly led to market.

It works like this....Consumer X is looking to buy a new car. He has been looking at sites containing information on BMW cars (It could be any make of car but i'll use BMW for the sake of of this post). Infact he has visited several automotive Internet sites including the official BMW site. We know this because his IP has been tagged and tracked as illustrated earlier. Over the years Consumer X has purchased various cars in the price range of a brand new BMW. We know this because we have bought the mailing lists for New car buyers that are readily available at a price from the myriads of marketing companies that provide those services. We know that consumer X fits into certain demographic groups that are favourable to the purchase of high priced automobiles. This information is harvested from Census records, marketing surveys, credit card limits and transactions etc etc. This cross pollination is still in its infancy, but is already the most powerful tool available to those who wish to sell you their product. Shotgun marketing is now a thing of the past. Pinpoint targeting has become the rule of the day.

Once Consumer X has been identified, and is seen to meet the criteria to be able to buy a high end vehicle, the "Round-up" commences.

Everytime he logs on to the Internet he will be shown at various times sidebar ads for BMW, if his email address has been captured he will start getting BMW spam, he will start to receive brochures via snail mail. He may even get phone-calls from Bombay or Calcutta telling him that as part of a "Special" promotion he has ben selected for preferential financing if he is looking to buy a BMW. He'll start to receive flyers from the local BMW show room suggesting Test Drives and incentives. If there is a TV/Press campaign underway he'll start to identify with them as they quietly massage his ego. In short he will be bombarded with enticements that keep him moving in the "right" direction.

My colleagues in the industry will argue that all of this is a SERVICE to the consumer and in no way manipulative. I will argue that if I caught someone outside my house looking through my window to see what I was doing on the Internet, I would greet them with a Snub-Nose and demand to know what the @#$% they where up to.

The Internet has provided the manipulators with anonymity and carte blanche access to certain aspects of our daily lives, from that vantage point they can influence your thoughts and desires. For people that worry that the Internet will someday be regulated, worry no more. Those who want your money will never ever let it happen.

[edit on 13-3-2008 by Seeker PI]

posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 01:40 PM
Let me simply respond to Seeker by stating, "RIGHT-O".

For the past several years I have been the Director of Digital Advertising Sales for a major entertainment network (Up until I was recently laid-off!) and what he is saying is right on the money. Be prepared for almost every single consumer behavior charactersistic to be catalogued and processed on each of you. We know how much you spend, what on, what your interests are and the countless demographic and psycholograpic profiles that you fit into. We can slice and dice our data seven ways till Sunday and have a 90%+ accuracy in predicting your next consumer behavior. We sell this to anyone and everyone willing to pay for it.

We have databases that update in real-time and tell us your every thought and your every move. We generally know more about where you're going to spend your money next before you even know it! This information makes the NSA, CIA and FBI jealous! Soon they will merge their databases with these marketing databases and you will be nothing more than a collection of predictable bits and bytes. There is already so little about you that is private. Once the aggregating begins there will be NOTHING about that is private. Welcome to the age of technology!

posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 02:11 PM
Wow, I knew this was going on, but I guess I fooled myself into believing that it wasn't this advanced yet.

How long until all the 'databases' start to communicate and interact? I am sure for the time being, that there is intense competition for trade secrets. So not too much sharing going on.

How does this work for those users who have ip addresses that change? I had DSl a while ago, and someone in my area had a computer zombized on a botnet I think, and when the ip address would change, sometimes I would get hammered by pings for several hours, but then after the bots couldn't connect, they eventually would give up.

Is it it cookie based? This is what Google Analytics is to a degree, correct?

Also, when will RFID tags be embedded into everything? Or are they already set up, so retroactively, when you get the next generatio video game console or mp3 player, it has a rfid reader than can 'see' your proof of purchase as DRM of the dvd in your rfid enabled dock, thereby allowing you to download a torrent file? Wifi RFID readers everywhere, with cell phone cameras remotely activated as security cams?

Jeeze. The crazy embedded RFID chip/Mark of the Beast threads don't sound quite as crazy once the compartmentalized technologies start to grow legs, and interact with each other. Is there anyway to prevent this type of data from being collected, and set aside to be compiled and reviewed later?

Not buy anything, ever again, right?

ps... Stars and Flag... This is one of those topics that MUST NOT get lost in the shuffle!

posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 04:10 PM
Kozmo: Thanks very much for the confirmation. I hope you get back to work real soon. There seems to be a lot of down sizing going on at the moment. Go figure!

Doc Moreau: I left mainstream advertising in 2000 to start my own company which worked primarily in packaging design. I left because I was not proud of some of the things I had done at the behest of others, and could no longer morally accept that. My kids had grown up and left home so I no longer had to bank role a family as such, which made the decision to leave that that much easier.

The reason I posted was because the new insights I was being given by those that wish to employ me, where as much a revalation to me a they are to you, consequently I'am not in a technical position to give you answers to many of your questions.

The RFID chip technology is already in place, and is being been utilised by the advertising community, At the moment they're still not sure how to best use this "Tool" but a good example currently in the works, deals with the everspreading Blackberry phenomana.

This is how it works in principle......Your in any street, any town, North America. It's 11:45am. You have a call to make.......

As you activate your Blackberry the first thing you'll hear will be a two second Mac Donalds jingle. They don't need to mention Mac Donalds or indeed utilise any voice over. The jingle has already been rammed down every bodies throat over and over again via the "Idiot box" that sits in the corner of everybodies living rooms. Product recognition has already been established via accoustics. The hope is, that a Pavlovian response will occur. It's lunchtime, your hungry, wheres the nearest Mac Donalds you wonder. And as we know theres one in every strip mall so it won't be hard to find.

This method is the opposite of Subliminal advertising (which is outlawed) but has exactly the same cause and effect mechanisms.

I have to stop right now, but I'll come back later today and add some other comments if you interested.

Again thanks for the responses folks.

posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 07:37 PM
"Is it cookie based? This is what Google Analytics is to a degree, correct?

Not exactly. Cookie based analytics is being called "Dumb Tech" in some circles because it's not a profiling agent. It's merely (At the moment) a beacon devise. Once embeded they only transmit “I am online, I am here” so to speak. The malware responds to the signal and attaches itself to your hard drive, from where it will influence and overide search parameters to show you what it wants you to see.
To some extent its pretty primative compared to whats coming down the road.

Profiling Agents are far more sophisticated. They will read your hard drive.

To use as an example your referance to computer games..... Once the Agent has been through your file folders it will identify what games are held on the HD. If it finds for example EA Games present, it will identify what Genre they are. If it finds EA Sports games thats the signal it will send. Consequently Pop ups, advertising, news articles, special offers etc will skew to EA Sports games as you travel through the net.

The point of this is that advertisers don't want to spend their money trying to sell Madden NFL 2009 to a little old lady in New England. They want to go after the people who have already bought into the product line or have similar games on their drives.

I see this as no different to someone going through your garbage to find out what Soap Powder you buy, so that they can send you coupons to persuade to buy their product instead. But thats just me:-)

“Is there anyway to prevent this type of data from being collected”

The short answer is NO.

I do not know if this is pure BS, but I have been told that there is no legislation to prevent it. Therefor it is LEGAL, and consequently anyone developing software in the future to short circuit the process, will be quickly introduced to Corporati Lawyers who will attempt to sue the pants of you for attempting to interfere with their legal right to do bussiness.

Thats Progress.....Its a wonderfull thing!

posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 08:11 PM
Well that is a pretty scary insight into how marketing agencies can track us. I have to say though that they seriously need to fix their program. It obviously has some glitches that they need to iron out. My inbox is constantly filled with spam for viagra and how to enlarge my "member" to better satisfy women......


posted on Mar, 13 2008 @ 09:18 PM
Thats too funny Michelle129, nice one.

Must be a beta program thats spaming you, no doubt they'll iron out the wrinkles as they go along. Either that or it thinks your a very old Frenchman.

Take care.

[edit on 13-3-2008 by Seeker PI]

posted on Mar, 14 2008 @ 06:39 AM
Another advertising veteran here. 25 years in the business as a copywriter, creative director and account planner, never in the USA (where the kind of thing the OP talks about is far more advanced than elsewhere), but plenty of experience in other countries.

I'll tell you what all this new profiling and matching technology will do to consumers: it will make their lives more annoying, causing them to view the advertisers who perpertrate it as obnoxious nuisances. In the end, it will drive them to boycott the products and services of marketers who use these techniques.

Sure, marketers will point out, as I mention in another thread about advertising, that consumers don't have to like an ad for it to work. Well, I reckon they're wrong. There was a time I could have pointed you to studies that would support my contention, but like the OP I've been out of the game for a few years now.

Anyway, folks, take heart: they can charm you, they can cozen you, they can nag and browbeat and pester you, they can suborn your kids to work as their unpaid agents in the home, but they cannot make you buy. Only you can make yourself do that.

So relax, rest easy, and let the tech-bedazzled idiots of the advertising and marketing industries enjoy their new database and profiling toys. They don't work.

posted on Mar, 15 2008 @ 12:41 AM

Originally posted by Astyanax
I'll tell you what all this new profiling and matching technology will do to consumers: it will make their lives more annoying, causing them to view the advertisers who perpertrate it as obnoxious nuisances. In the end, it will drive them to boycott the products and services of marketers who use these techniques.

Anyway, folks, take heart: they can charm you, they can cozen you, they can nag and browbeat and pester you, they can suborn your kids to work as their unpaid agents in the home, but they cannot make you buy. Only you can make yourself do that.

So relax, rest easy, and let the tech-bedazzled idiots of the advertising and marketing industries enjoy their new database and profiling toys. They don't work.

What I quoted above fits what I was thinking as I read through this thread. Advertising always seemed somewhat pointless to me as it never really affected me. Though I've never had a lot of money to spend on stuff so I just focus on necessities and being frugal. Also, if I started getting e-mails and junk mail for a product that would only annoy me, just as advertisements do. I don't want my account space or paper wasted just to get me to buy something.

Though, I'm guessing with all the money in advertising, it must be fairly successful.

What bothers me about all of this is the amount of data and effort put into this. It kind of creeps me out.

About this profiling agent, I would like to learn more about how it accesses one's hard drive and so on.

posted on Mar, 15 2008 @ 05:08 AM
I guess I could say I am an advertising vet (10 year of regular, but not constant, sub contracting), but from a different perspective. I have done several 'street team', viral campaigns in the past that I cannot go into too much detail due to the ATS terms. (Illegal Acts...)

I too grew sick of the 'things I have done'.

Some of the street contracts offered protection from the legal teams of the multi corporations, but for the most part I was expected to risk trespassing charges at the very minimum.

Since I have left the genre, we had the Boston LED Aqua Teen Bomb Scare as one of the more extreme examples of the street campaign backfiring into the type of advertisement that money can't buy. A somewhat different style of ad than the Minority Report/RFID invasion of privacy style of marketing that is mentioned in the OP. I am even more sickened by the prospect of my entire life analyzed by algorithms and then sorted and labeled accordingly.

And while I agree with what some said about the flawed nature of the technique, and humanity's desire to make choices for themselves, my main concern is after the 'failure' it is not like the databases will just be erased. Once your information has been monetized, it will change hands if it is no longer of use to the collector/buyer. Thats why you get Viagra ads when you don't need it. That particular email has 'not performed' enough for any of the more directed solicitors. Now it has dropped to the very bottom of penny per link scrappers and fake over sea drug peddlers.

So once the collection of information in this '2.0' style becomes the industry standard, and then becomes over monetized, does it all fall into the hands of the NSA/CIA/FBI to help with their 'profiles' and 'profiling' techniques?

Thats my main concern. Some underlying fear that because I come here and then look at some wild stuff, that some flawed profile somewhere decides I am one of the 'troublemakers' and 'into the railcar I go, headed for the camps.' Maybe their little crawlers and bot-nets are reading this now, adding this one to the rest in the profile. Once the algorithm is finished calculating, they could be here any minute.


posted on Mar, 18 2008 @ 02:24 AM

Originally posted by SEEKER PI
Profiling Agents are far more sophisticated. They will read your hard drive.

I don't think so -- that would certainly be illegal!

No, what these technologies do is study your Web usage behaviour from data provided by the ISPs, commercial and social-networking sites you use, and targeting advertising at you based on what they (think they) have learned.

As one such company, Phorm, explains on its web site,

By partnering directly with ISPs, the OIX can draw from the greatest supply of browsing information and avoid the limitations of purely site-based data. OIX ad-serving technology uses "behavioural keywords" - keywords derived from a combination of search terms, URLs and even contextual page analysis, over time - to find the right users...

For example, travel advertisers will be able to target messages to anyone seeing the keywords "Paris vacation" either as a search or inside the text of any page with timing of three times in an hour. The OIX will match that campaign to users as they browse, and offer to deliver those highly-relevant ads on OIX participating websites and ad networks whenever those users go to those sites.

FIPR, a policy think-tank in the UK, is arguing that such tactics are illegal: Phorm 'illegal' says policy group

Their arguments are contained in a letter to the UK Information Commissioner. Of course the legal situation in other countries would be somewhat different.

[edit on 18-3-2008 by Astyanax]

posted on Apr, 7 2008 @ 02:47 AM
Another Expert Opines that Phorm is Illegal

Here's the latest on the Phorm issue in the UK, if anyone's still interested.

I imagine the outcome of this controversy will affect the debate over online-behaviour research in the United States, though what the outcome will be -- in either country -- is far from certain.

The US and the UK are co-leaders in advertising innovation and what happens in these countries is likely to set the standard for laws and regulatory regimes regarding the industry in other parts of the world.

posted on Apr, 11 2008 @ 10:37 AM
UK Government says Phorm will have to be 'opt-in'

The Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's online watchdog, now says that Phorm will have to be an 'opt-in' service. This means that people have to agree to let the technology collect data about their internet use. It rather spoils the effect -- the database will probably end up a lot smaller -- and may in fact make the service altogether unviable.

More here: Will opt-in 'phinish' Phorm?

This story is developing in a very interesting way...

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