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I Have Never Met A Cookie I Didn't Love

10th Feb 2016

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From the startup e-commerce grocery store to the insurance behemoth, right now everyone has customer engagement at the top of their agendas… and rightly so. The question surrounding the “how, what, when, where, and why” of their customers and potential customers has b2c businesses in a mad pursuit of eyeballs and clicks.

This has been generated by the technological advances of programmatic advertising which helps automate the decision making process of media buying by targeting specific audiences and demographics. Programmatic ads are placed using artificial intelligence and real-time bidding for online display, social media advertising, mobile and video campaigns and is expanding to traditional TV advertising marketplaces. Put in layman’s terms, everything you expose about yourself in cyberspace is used to build a profile which is then “presented” with the most relevant advertisements to you as an individual… automatically. It stands to reason that in order for this to be effective huge amounts of data have to be garnered by the publisher about the consuming public. 

It has long been recognised that data is one of the most valuable commodities right now. Huge internet giants own little aside from data and they are worth in excess of US$200 billion. The World Economic Forum says that 50bn devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. The amount of data stored on the internet is predicted to grow exponentially and looks set to be 44 times larger in 2020 than it was in 2009. It is little surprise that internet revenue has also grown strongly over the last ten years, or that in 2013 it hit $42.8bn in the US.

So what does that mean to us?

I recently had a conversation with some friends of mine who said how they hate the fact that their cyber life was being so closely observed. I alerted them to the fact that they have been being "watched" physically for years. I believe we are caught on CCTV on average of 300 times a day and for my friends I was talking to, who had arrived in Singapore via Changi Airport, they can be spooked by the fact that Singapore airport has the largest CCTV system in the world with 3000 cameras! 

Yes.......but they felt still their personal space was being intruded.

I couldn't agree with them, I feel almost anonymous online. I suspect I have much the same profile to many 40 something single women who are in a similar position to myself. Yes ok, I may Google the odd embarrassing symptom and… don't judge, I am not entirely outraged by risqué content. As much as your Mummy tells you how special and unique you are I am pretty sure that from a cyber perspective, I am not. My last 24 hours of browsing history, brace yourself; liver cleanse, Turkish get-ups, natural sleep remedy, golden village, Bravissimo, Apple troubleshooting, The Guardian, flights to Vietnam, post office locations, shelving systems, recipe for lamb chermoula… yawn, right? We are often treated to the delicious schadenfreude of people posting images of unsuspecting individuals on CCTV doing something they really should have kept to behind a locked door (or just not done at all) but when do we see posts of "check out this persons browsing history!" Not nearly so side-splitting.

I challenged my friends on this and suggested they didn't flatter themselves with delusions that their cyber life was so much more interesting than anyone else's. I have seen your browsing history, trust me, it's not.

Then I suggested they consider getting on board with the fact that listening to us (taking out the instances of malevolent intent) and providing us with a tailor made solution before we even ask for one, is in fact super helpful. In fact, more than that, isn't it what every customer demands?

*Insert targeted ad here*

They are getting their knickers in a twist because they don't perceive themselves to be customers at the time they are being sold to. Pah, play fair! We demand excellence in customer service, whenever we choose to be a customer we expect our needs to be preempted, met and exceeded. Why is it so unfathomable that retailers want to attract you by preempting your needs?

Why shouldn't retailers try to reach the passive customer, their customers of tomorrow, with targeted advertising? Why are my friends so offended by the fact that they are seeing an advertisement for something they are actually interested in instead of a pair of bifocals? And for my recruitment chums who berate the pursuit of the passive consumer shame on you - we pursue the passive job seeker like a dog pursues a hare.

You might have realised by now, I am loving the convergence of creativity, innovation, science and technology. The most historically unlikely bedfellows have bonded to create an enriching cyber experience. I embrace it, I jump in, swim around and try to release all the data I can, yeah you can have my cookies, there's cookies for everyone, hell! I'll even bake a new batch!

I get ridiculously excited when technology knows what I am thinking even before the neurological message has reached my finger tips. I’M LAZY, please do my thinking for me, please trawl the net and pick out the things I desire most and parade them in front of me. It's personal shopping on a whole new level. Some days, my surfing doesn’t even get as energetic as typing, I just glide through cyberspace guided by my right forefinger. It is both an adventure and a learning experience. Dear internet; my friend, my mother, my teacher, my mentor, my spiritual guide, you know I like to go to stay in a villa in Bali during my Easter break, please show me something beautiful without me even asking.

To my friends who feel defiled by the lack of privacy, you wait until IoT is commonplace in the home and even your appliances start thinking for you and talking to you. It might be time to go and live back in the 20th century. 

I glossed over it earlier, the collection and use of people's data for malicious intent. I play as safely as I can, but as a cyber exhibitionist I reserve the right to entitle my next blog..."Mother $&%^*@# cookies, my identity was stolen".......