Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Placed for everything

I remember the first time a company I was working for put in an electronic key system and issued everyone the new-fangled badges needed to work the system.

This was 1998, and we had yet to fully cede all sense of privacy by  letting CVS know our every-purchase history in exchange for coupons we’ll never use. Before we all started explicitly (FB, Twitter, blogging…) or implicitly (Amazon makes life so easy!) tell-alling in cyberspace.

So when they gave us those badges, we were all pretty annoyed.

Badges, what badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Does this mean they’ll be able to monitor every time we step out into the hall to use the bathroom? Are we getting sucked in to using a punch clock, like wage slaves?


Of course, we could get around all this by just going in and out of the front entrance, which was open and unmonitored during the day.

But we did so like to complain.

And, of course, after our initial complain spate, we started using the badges to get in and out, as it was so much more convenient to get to the restroom through those electronic back doors than it was to schlepp out through the reception area.

But that, of course, was then.

And this, of course, is now.

Which brings us to Placed, a location analytics company

Placed has persuaded 125,000 people across the country to download an app on their mobile phones that tracks everywhere they go. Over time, they collect $5 or $10 gift cards and are entered into drawings for prizes, such as AppleiPads. (Source: Business Week.)

Amazing, ain’t it, that there are so many folks out are willing to sacrifice whatever shred of privacy they have (or fantasize that they have) for a $5 give card?

Placed may call their business “location analytics,” but I like to think of it is mess of potage services.

Here’s what Placed offers:

Moms in the Grocery Aisle! Insights into the real world shopping behavior of mothers, including top retailers and smartphone activities.

Moms in the Grocery Aisle! Love that bit of retro. After all, what would a dad be doing in the Grocery Aisle?

The Ratings Service that quantifies the physical world by mapping the relationship between people and places

I don’t know about you, but am I the only one whose head hurts just thinking about quantifying the physical world? I’ve got all I can do to just qualify it…

Move Past the Geo-Fence with Placed Targeting

Personally, I don’t want anything moving past my Geo-Fence. In fact, I’m thinking of fortifying my Geo-Fence, building it higher and wider, and topping it with coils of barbed wire. Think of it as the Great Wall of Maureen.

Among the fascinating insights that Placed has gleaned from and about those Moms in the Grocery Aisle:

…Asian American mothers shop at Trader Joe’s more often than white moms, who tend to frequent big grocery chains, says company founder David Shim.

And choosy mothers choose Jiff.

Oh, and McDonald’s is “the most visited restaurant in the country.”

(Didn’t we kinda-sorta know that already?)

“Your location is valuable,” Shim says, holding up his mobile phone (while being interviewed here). “It’s a persistent cookie that people carry with them 24/7.”

Think I’ll start wrapping my smartphone in tin foil, just in case.

Placed asks users for permission and scrubs personally identifying information before companies see the data, Shim says: “There isn’t this creepiness factor. These people have opted in to being measured.”

Sorry, David Shim, just because someone has “opted in the being measured” doesn’t delete the creepiness factor…

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