Thursday, 18 February 2016

Spam vs. Love

The way the Internet is now able to send out targeted advertising is through some very basic things they know about the user. Cookies can be used to track browsing behavior, which can in term replace the ads you see in pop-ups. For example, if you have visited a certain website, let's say eBAy, that information is stored in your browser, and eBAy is now able to send out targeted advertising to your computer because they now think, that you are interested in their services, based on a past visit.
The reality is, that they really don't know that much about you at all, and it's not very effective. Some companies try to attain your PII (Personal Identifiable Information), but even that only gives them some basic demographics, like age, state of residence etc. So it's no wonder that junk-mail has gotten so extremely out of control. Their strategy is to just shoot a machine-gun of emails in as many directions as possible so that maybe, of the million emails they send out, they might hit one correct target, which of course, is not very effective.

The way I see it, is that I don't mind receiving advertising (even through email) at all, as long as it is something that I might potentially want. I happen to be very interested in things like back-pack traveling, art-shows, certain concerts, snowboarding etc. so if I receive any type of advertising that is related to this, I will take notice.

It is hard however for companies to send out targeted advertising, because they know absolutely nothing about you. People are suspicious of the Internet, and are extremely reluctant to give away any personal information on the web. Or are they? Web sites like and (which are web-sites geared to finding love on-line) actually get people to give away every little nuance of their personality with the promise that they will help them find love.

So, I went on and took their very extensive 20 page personality test, I wanted to see just exactly what they would ask me, and how accurate their final analysis of my personality would be.
Which started to make me wonder: can we match people with products and brands the same way they claim to be able to match personalities?

The interesting part is that as they are able to assess your personality (which in my case turned out to be pretty true), you are in fact not giving away any crucial information about yourself such as credit-card numbers, age or even names, just an email address. This would be extremely useful information that could effectively be used for marketing, provided that you ask the right questions, and assume that people will answer honestly.

The one problem though, is that answering a 20 page questionnaire is something not many people enjoy doing, and I actually felt like doing something else after about 10 pages of it. But people go through that effort all the time in order to find love.

But is the promise of getting rid of unwanted spam nearly as enticing?

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