The 30th May 1983 cover article of TIME magazine was titled “The New Economy”, it described the transition from heavy industry to a new technology based economy. Eleven years later, the 25th July 1994 cover article was titled “The Strange New World of the Internet”. It had taken over one hundred years from the Industrial Revolution to the “New Economy”. In as little as eleven years the Internet arrived taking the new economy to a new level of sophistication. Towards the end of the 20th century we started to see the escalation of digital media. Advertisers started to find their way into this new medium aided by search engines such as Yahoo, then Google and YouTube and others. In addition, social media sites like facebook, MySpace and others provided space for advertisers to share their clients’ messages.
The technology sitting behind many websites is becoming more intelligent. Whereas mass media advertising was how large companies reached their target audiences, technology now allows for far more targeted campaigns. Today, Google spiders and web tracking tools enable companies to know what an individual is looking at on their website, how long they looked at it and if they downloaded anything (Oracle 2011). Hirst & Harrison take this to a new level describing the new economy as “The Surveillance Economy” (Hirst & Harrison p.323) as against what the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in 2004 described as “The Security Economy” (Stevens 2004). In balance, people can only be profiled based on the responses to your questions.
“David Lyon points out…, in the 21st century these processes of “social sorting” and “discrimination” are becoming increasingly automated. Interestingly, it is not just in the area of law enforcement and government administration that such sorting techniques have developed, but also in marketing. Hence, surveillance practices cluster people (often without their knowledge) into categories, be it as potential lawbreakers or as potential consumers. The upshot is a rise in the use of risk profiling and increasing reliance on “predictive profiling”. (Stevens p.15).
The emergence of these technologies provides advertisers with the nirvana of ad placement. By profiling what their clients’ prospect is viewing on a website, by analysing the responses to mini surveys and by connecting prospects with the most attractive and relevant offers, their clients’ hopefully in turn generate more revenue (Woods p.88). Hirst & Harrison see this targeted marketing as an infringement on a person’s privacy, which is part of the reason they go so far as to call the new economy, the surveillance economy. Predictive profiling allows a company to deliver offers to a prospect or client based on their previous “click stream”. Advertisers can also take advantage of this information; different advertisements can be placed on a page relative to where the person has been previously. (Oracle 2011).
While I believe Hirst & Harrison over dramatise the impact of these convergent technologies (Hirst & Harrison p. 319) on consumers and their inference that it could be used for more Machiavellian activities, I agree people should be made aware when a corporation or government is following their electronic footprint. Digital media, in its’ many forms, allows far more people access to information, which would have previously been available to only a select view.
Oracle 2011, Oracle CRM On Demand Marketing, viewed 29 May 2011.
Hirst, M & Harrison, J 2007, Communication and the New Media, from Broadcast to Narrowcast, Oxford University Press, Australia & New Zealand.
Stevens, B 2004, The Security Economy – OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris, France.
Woods, S 2009, Digital Body Language, New Year Publishing LLC, Danville, CA, USA.
Siebel, T 1999, Cyber Rules, Strategies for excelling at eBusiness, Doubleday, New York, NY, USA
Time Cover 1994, The Strange New world of The Internet, viewed 29May 2011.
Time Cover 1983, The New Economy, viewed 29May 2011.