Who is watching who, and who cares

Marketers are inventing all kinds of ways to find you these days. Some you may be aware of, and can opt in, some you aren’t and can’t.

Today the NY Times had two articles that discuss this. The first was about a Zappos shoe that kept following a woman around on the web. Seemed to her that on every site she visited for a while, there was that same shoe! Even long after she had originally browsed the Zappos site. Sounded scary, I didn’t want to know much more than that.

The second piece was about marketers and retailers using the location capabilities of smart phones. I have written about this on a number of occasions, (just click on the design technology tag, and you’ll see a few columns) but the article mentions one that was new to me, ShopKick.

It sounds like they have combined location functionality, traditional couponing, a retailer incentive program, and a frequent buyer program, and more, into one app.

As the NY Times piece mentions, it will be interesting over time to see how much privacy consumers are willing to give up to gain special discounts, points and other promotional stuff.

My suspicion is that my suspicion is generational. Folks of my age seem to have more value for privacy, (or perhaps just think we have more of it than we actually do) than the millennial generation.

One example comes from the controversial UC Berkeley program that asks incoming students to voluntarily, and anonymously, give a DNA sample which would be tested for several traits. These results will then be shared in a campus wide discussion on personalized medicine. In a survey of faculty (older folks), less than 20% thought that most students would volunteer, while over 90% of students thought, that if asked, they would volunteer.

The article ends with a comment by Sam Altman of Loopt, who supports the notion that sharing, at least in this way, is generational. He says “the magic age is people born after 1981”. That of course was the year Walter Cronkite retired from the CBS nightly newscast.

“And that’s the way it is”

The photo is by Mark Schiefelbein for The New York Times


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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