Digital marketing is the boogeyman after us all. The psychological tricks used by marketers to prey on unwitting consumers are getting more deceptive—and it’s all because of big data. That’s right, marketers are using your personal data. Taking a deeper look into how this data gets collected and used can help you safeguard your privacy and sanity.
Webscraping Public Databases
There’s a type of computer programming known as “webscraping.” This is a sneaky type of programming developed to “scrape” data from certain websites. When you do certain things in modern society, such as purchasing land, starting a business, or getting a speeding ticket your name gets logged into a public database. Webscrapers leverage computer technology to scrape much more of this information than any human could conceivably get manually. That means these guys get millions of records without breaking a sweat.
“Partners” and “Third Parties”
Anytime you give someone your name or personal information online you run the risk of that information being later purchased by a third party. Even if you give information to a company that never uses it—another company could buy them and they could sell your information! Look out for checkboxes when you’re making purchases as there are legal requirements that dictate advertisers offer an opt-out option. Expect your information to be sold anytime you register for anything online, but also when signing up for loans, selling a house, or starting a business.
Have you ever been reading about a product or service online and felt compelled to buy? If you were reading an article or personal testimonial, chances are, the writer has been compensated in some way for that. Affiliate marketing is a way for publishers to link to products or services in a way that lets them earn commissions anytime a reader buys something. This might sound harmless at first glance but it can create an incentive to promote products that offer the highest payout rather than the highest service quality. Affiliate marketing is a deep and interesting topic. To learn more about affiliate marketing websites and how digital marketing is used to promote websites check out the MoneyMound guide on how to start a blog. You might not be interested in creating your own website but knowing the considerations others take in mind when doing so can help you know what to steer clear of.
Machine Learning is a popular buzzword being tossed around in the media these days. Through very powerful computer algorithms, computer scientists are able to use large sets of data to make incredible predictions and draw remarkable insights. Companies are in a race to offer incredible free services all in the name of generating tremendous datasets for just such use. The most notable examples of machine learning are Facebook and Google.
Google products like Chrome and Search are free because they help Google leverage incredibly-large datasets for other services. One lesser-known example is Google’s reCaptcha product (that annoying “choose all the images with road signs” verification box) that is used for website bot detection. Each time you click a box you’re helping build a dataset used to help build visual-recognition technology.
Price Effect Modeling
Among the many mathematical models used by marketers, this one stands out in a particularly obscene way. This formula helps marketing professionals identify just how much prices can be raised before people will take offense. Have you ever noticed that it hurts more to spend an extra ten cents for a pack of gum, but you shrug off paying an extra dollar for an eighteen-dollar tee shirt? This is formulaic price modeling in action. A dollar should be a dollar regardless of where it’s spent. That’s simply not the case and marketers know it cold. The next time you’re buying something for $50 realize you’re probably paying the same percentage markup that you are for a pack of gum, not the same net-amount.
Marketing isn’t some evil practice but many misuse it and prey on the unwilling. There’s a saying among Marketers; “we ruin everything.” The “we” being marketers. The thing is, the noblest of businesses or non-profits still need to have an effective marketing strategy to help get their message out. Effective marketing, at least in these circumstances, can help make the world a better place. On the other hand, nobody cares about getting 50 calls for a third-party “extended car warantee” after they buy a car. They get the offers though because the dealership sold their information, the State registration databases get scraped, and machine-learning algorigthmns have identified them as having recently purchased a car. It gets annoying fast, but at least you know what to watch out for.
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