All eyes on you

PlacedIf you’re not already creeped out by the depth and detail of personal, behavioral, and transactional information about you available to the business world (and honestly, why aren’t you?), then perhaps this will nudge you in that direction. The evolving marketing information systems are now adding location behavior to the mix, tracking not only what you like, what you do, and what you buy, but also where you wander in the world.

Case in point is Placed (news article here), a startup that matches mobile phone location data against other consumer data to add ”where” to the information mix. The combo reveals that people who watch the weight-loss show ”The Biggest Loser” are more likely to visit restaurants and bakeries, that “Survivor” watchers are more likely to visit sporting goods stores, and that those who watch TV on mobile devices are more likely to visit a T-Mobile or Sprint store than AT&T or Verizon.

To me, the continuing evolution of consumer information tracking and analytics raises two independent questions:

  1. How willing am I to trade convenience and consumer perqs for my privacy (through Facebook, consumer loyalty cards, preference-sharing systems like Amazon and Pandora, and the like)?
  2. And how would I behave as a business leader in the nonprofit arts, knowing this information is out there, and that I can use it to advance my work?

Knowing your customer is powerful stuff. But exploiting their personal information, and their physical location data, may not be worth the return, particularly for a public trust, mission-driven enterprise.



  1. says

    I think the data train has already left the station, Andrew. The only choice arts leaders have now is whether to do professional marketing or to continue doing it the amateur way. Refusing to use data because your organization has a mission-oriented objection to its existence may be noble, but it is wildly impractical and potentially fiscally irresponsible. For some the choice will be between survival and failure.

    Thirty-five years ago the arts had the same objection to calling their customers at dinner time and begging them to subscribe or give money. But as soon as they saw the money pouring in, they found a way to make peace with it. Something tells me the same thing will happen with big data.

  2. Michael WIlkerson says

    On the other hand, as is now being discussed re the Snowden revelations re NSA, just because all that data exists, does that mean that we have to surrender completely? Just because government and business (and nonprofits) have access to it, does that mean we should sheeply allow them to do whatever they want with it? It’s time for a real national dialogue on these issues, and perhaps some new privacy laws, starting with the simple question of who owns one’s data, such as email, text messages, web searches, etc. (We should own it as individuals and have the right to rent it out or sell it, or not.)