THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Pixels and Beacons

Forget privacy.

A web site that is pixellated is noting your digital footprint when you visit and following you around afterwards to remarket whatever you were looking at.

A beacon recognises your smartphone as you walk past or enter premises and sends you personalised messages.

That technology is already working around you.

Every time you get a Facebook advert that reminds you of a web site you visited earlier – you’ve been pixellated.

Amazon are pixellating you all day.

Last weekend I walked into a Viennese pizza restaurant with my daughters. Within minutes we were getting personalised messages on our devices.

If you thought CCTV was a problem – you are living in digital ignorance or denial.

Whether or not you find this intrusive or unsettling, it’s too late to protest.

Facebook’s record last quarter profits (double a year ago) were 80% advertising revenue – it’s not a social media site, it’s an advertising platform – and you are signed in.

Apple’s record last quarter profits were a result of us buying (and upgrading) the devices that give away our location and intention – and you bought them.

So as a consumer you will have to accept the reality – or stop posting and sharing, then throw your devices away.

As a business owner, you cannot avoid the need to investigate how you can use this technology ethically within your business.

Dental web sites are already pixellated if they work with a savvy paid media provider.

I haven’t seen any dental beacons yet – maybe a step too far – and I heard yesterday that Google may well be tightening up on remarketing healthcare (including dentistry).

The essence of healthcare information is confidentiality and Google et al may be responding to complaints.

One can see the point. A husband doesn’t know that his wife wears or wants dentures. She visits a denture web site on a family computer, days later he is looking at remarketed denture adverts and wondering why?

So there are clearly some boundaries and tolerances in healthcare that have yet to be addressed – my own guess is that the barriers will inevitably be eroded by big business, keen to exploit the new transparency of consumers.

Do yourself a favour though – don’t hope that digital invasion will go away. You are being watched and the sight of your derriere sticking out of the sand will not be attractive.

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