USA Today has an article on the depth and breadth of personal information mined by online service providers, such as Microsoft’s Hotmail free e-mail service, in order to provide marketers with highly detailed consumer profiles:
Data miners dig a little deeper
When customers sign up for a free Hotmail e-mail account from Microsoft, they’re required to submit their name, age, gender and ZIP code.
But that’s not all the software giant knows about them.
Microsoft takes notice of what time of day they access their inboxes. And it goes to the trouble of finding out how much money folks in their neighborhood earn.
Why? It knows a florist will pay a premium to have a coupon for roses reach males 30-40, earning good wages, who check their e-mail during lunch hour on Valentine’s Day.
Microsoft is one of many companies collecting and aggregating data in new ways so sophisticated that many customers may not even realize they’re being watched.
These businesses are using new software tools that can record every move a person makes online and combine that information with other data. Brick-and-mortar stores, afraid of being left behind, are ramping up data collection and processing efforts, too, says JupiterResearch analyst Patti Freeman Evans.
The result: Corporate America is creating increasingly detailed portraits of each consumer, whether they’re aware of it or not.
[via Pogo Was Right]