WHAT THEY KNOW

WHAT THEY KNOW - WHAT THEY KNOW AUGUST 4, 2010 On the Web's...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
WHAT THEY KNOW AUGUST 4, 2010 On the Web's Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only By EMILY STEEL and JULIA ANGWIN You may not know a company called [x+1] Inc., but it may well know a lot about you. In the latest "What They Know" installment, Julia Angwin discusses the case of Paul Boulifard, who like most people can be profiled by websites that can predict whether or not someone will be a good customer. Also, Kelly Crow discusses the apparent rebound in the high-end art market. From a single click on a web site, [x+1] correctly identified Carrie Isaac as a young Colorado Springs parent who lives on about $50,000 a year, shops at Wal-Mart and rents kids' videos. The company deduced that Paul Boulifard, a Nashville architect, is childless, likes to travel and buys used cars. And [x+1] determined that Thomas Burney, a Colorado building contractor, is a skier with a college degree and looks like he has good credit. The company didn't get every detail correct. But its ability to make snap assessments of individuals is accurate enough that Capital One Financial Corp. uses [x+1]'s calculations to instantly decide which credit cards to show first-time visitors to its website. In an interview with WSJ's Alan Murray, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell conceded that advertisers must do better to inform customers about the tracking and mapping of online behavior. On the U.S. economy, he characterized the last 6-7 months as "America Bites Back" but wonders how long the recovery will last. In short: Websites are gaining the ability to decide whether or not you'd be a good customer, before you tell them a single thing about yourself. The technology reaches beyond the personalization familiar on sites like Amazon.com, which uses its own in-house data on its customers to show them new items they might like. By contrast, firms like [x+1] tap into vast databases of people's online behavior—mainly gathered surreptitiously by tracking technologies that have become ubiquitous on websites across the Internet. They don't have people's names, but cross-reference that data with records of home ownership, family income, marital status and favorite restaurants, among other things. Then, using statistical analysis, they start to make assumptions about the proclivities of individual Web surfers. "We never don't know anything about someone," says John Nardone, [x+1]'s chief executive. Capital One says it doesn't use the full array of [x+1]'s targeting technology, and it doesn't prevent people from applying for any card they want. "While we suggest products that we believe will be of interest to our visitors, we do not limit their ability to easily explore all products available," spokeswoman Pam Girardo says.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that the analytical skill of data handlers like [x+1] is transforming the Internet into a place where people are becoming anonymous in name only. The findings offer an early glimpse of a new, personalized Internet
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 01/22/2011 for the course MSOM 303 taught by Professor Philpot during the Winter '10 term at George Mason.

Page1 / 5

WHAT THEY KNOW - WHAT THEY KNOW AUGUST 4, 2010 On the Web's...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online