Where all the data lies
We are all the product of data. When businesses realised that selling just normal products was not making them enough money they started to realise that using the data they already had in the massive data farms could make them more money, the natural instinct is to make more money.Supermarkets from Tesco to Walmart have been doing it for a long time. (You think that loyalty card is just for loyalty) from selling prime spots in their stores to positioning the highest margin products at eye level, the “psychological selling” has been done for decades. But now, the way forward is using big data, the ability to find patterns and focus on a specific demographic. Let's use an example.
Let's say you are launching a new product that will be perfect for 20-35 year old men. To ensure that you get the best possible coverage the supermarket can use the date they have from their sales, stock control and loyalty cards and online shopping trends to determine the best place to put that product. I am 32, so I would be perfect for this new product, they know where their products are in the store and they know that I always buy product X that is located in aisle 14, 3rd shelf from the bottom. And it has not moved in years. The fact that I am there every week based on my spending habits they decide to place this fantastic new product Y next to X and drop the price compared to the competition and see how it goes.
This is using technology to decide where the best real estate is in a supermarket, as as being a really basic example it is what happens, now take this online.
Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and\ all the other multi billion dollar organisations are doing the same thing as the super markets but now they are intricately woven into our lives even more than just visiting the supermarket every week. You spend your life on your phone, your operating system is sitting watching, learning and giving you specific choices or suggestions based in your location or your recent searches. Even your phone is being used by high streets and supermarkets. Every time you are walking around your phone WiFi is on, it might not be connected to anything, but it is on. Your phone will reach out to find a WiFi to connect to and when it does it can be logged and added to that massive dataset. This can be used to track you and your shopping habits as well as what are the “hotspots” in the store and then sell that space to the highest bidder for maximum product impact.
Now take your recent trip to the supermarket, your loyalty card was scanned, your WiFi was tracked and you know have a very unique fingerprint, you know what you like and you know how much you want to pay for it. This behaviour is fed into a massive machine learning system to analyse your next purchase and that is then sold to\ advertisers.
This sounds like I made it up, it's not, this is only the surface of what is happening in and around our lives, it is no longer us buying the products we are the products. So, let's begin with how to take back control, starting with your email.