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The anonymous online profiles in Engage Knowledge contain rich, dynamic behavioral data that is processed based on: type of content viewed, the time spent viewing as well as the frequency and recency of visits to a particular interest category or site - all of which are based on 800 interest categories. To maintain consumer privacy, the profiles contain no sensitive data or personally identifiable information, such as names, addresses, social security numbers or e-mail addresses.-press release [angara.com]
This looks as if they'll be profiling the publishers by the demographics they can deliver. This could be a factor dynamic pricing and privacy issues, too.
wait a minute: after taking the tour, I'm not so sure that this isn't click-tracking without (supposedly) PII.
A guy walks to the counter in a suit and tie and pays $2 for a cup of coffee, a guy walks to the counter in raggy blue jeans and is charged $1 for a cup of coffee - that's illegal.
Corporations are all ruthlessly data-mining as much information they have about you as a consumer everyday and using it. Why not Amazon?
McDonalds costs a whole lot less here in Hong Kong than say Seattle. However the same pair of dockers pants cost more here in Hong Kong than they cost in Seattle.
Heck... e-bay changes prices dynamically based on demand on virtually everything they have listed (ok a warped example) and no one seems to complain.
Amazon's system was a bit flawed because it was too 'micro' in nature. They should have been targetting broader bands (i.e. people who buy from Microsoft's IP blocks may pay more than people who buy using AOL. Hong Kong users are more likely to pay for xyz than Iowa based users...). The problem was that their targetting was based around a fragile cookie... and it crumbled.
You are absolutely right that big companies are salivating over data mining, and "customer based management" as it is usually referred to.
Personally I can accept geographic differnces in pricing, there are factors that make sense to me on why pricing would be different for some items. But if companies become too granular they are in for a big shock.
What I see is that these companies don't have a clue how much damage they can do to themselves in the virtual world, they are very adept at dealing with these same issues in the brick and mortar world, but that's an entirely different kettle of fish.
If you ask any of these companies they will tell you that they are doing it to serve the customers better. I have seen companies that tracked everything that was purchased and could tell all kinds of things about "you" just by what you bought when. The intent was to customize promotional offerings and pricing.
Many products give this away, if you suddenly start buying baby formula then you must have had a baby, if you buy certain medications, products at particular times of the year, month, etc. it is all associated with trigger events that give them information about you. This is why many companies tie in a customer loyalty program in their brick and morter outfits with an online redemption or points tracking presence.
Everytime you hand them that points redemption card, another data point is created to identify something about you. Their hope is to convert it into a customized shopping cash cow, when and if you convert to their online shopping sites.
I am actually pretty interested in the possibilities as I sat through a presentation last week about how a certain company in Asia changes Oil pricing in micro-amounts based on the time of the day and location of the fuel pump. The pricing structure is not dynamic to the extent it changes by the purchaser. It is however dynamic based on GIS data and broad statistical information.
Well it doesn't change from evil to angelic just because many companies are gearing up to to the same.
My concern with it, is that I don't want to be influenced to that degree on what I purchase, when, and at what price.
It may not be true, but I like to think that today I go to the impulse buying zone on my own, it does not come to me, armed with my weak spots, and ready to do psychological battle. I prefer the model of supply and demand to determine price equally for all.
I can only guess, but I think that this perceived invasion of privacy, coupled with it's apparant unfairness and the ability to target at the individual level in the online world, makes some label it as "evil".