Monthly Archives: September 2009

Who’s Watching Me?

I like the iPhone TV commercials – all those apps I haven’t even heard of.  The App store very conveniently even has a section devoted to those apps seen on the TV commercial – smart!  I was browsing about the other day and noticed the genius tab.

Seemed like an interesting take – suggest apps I might like based on what I have already. However, as I started to read the privacy notice I became more concerned. Maybe I am just getting a bit paranoid, but the idea of having some entity tracking not just what apps I have, but how often I use them just seems a bit creepy.

Some people I know won’t use online banking cause they are scared. I figure it is way safer then leaving my checks in a mailbox though. Netflix just awarded a million dollar prize for a predictive movie picker to help make better movie suggestions for users. Fine, based on what movies I have watched and liked, suggest more.

Amazon sends me emails about products I might be interested in based on what I have bought or is in my wish list or what I have looked at. This is slightly creepy, but I found Ooma from this and that has saved me money!

I know what these companies want to use this for – make better suggestions to me so that I will buy more. That’s business, but there is a limit to how much information I really want to give up.

Tracking what movies I rent, what I buy at the grocery store on my points card or using my bill payments to set my credit score is one thing. Tracking my browser history or my app usage just seems a bit more invasive.

Last week I went to get my biometrics taken for my citizenship application. I asked why I needed to give the fingerprints again when I had done the same thing for my permanent resident card. Agent said because we only keep fingerprints on record for 15 months. Huh? Then why take them? Just take my DNA and be done with it! Probably Google has a more information on me now that the USCIS!

So, long story short, I declined the genius app tab function. Will this be short sighted of me? Will I miss some app that would have made me 30% more productive? Maybe, but I feel better anyway!

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Brand Perceptions

I find it interesting how our perception of a company/brand can change depending on our interaction with it. For instance, we see something advertised on TV and it comes across as professional. Our perception of the brand is created and is set high.

There is a magazine advert that we come across and again it is clear and professional looking. Perception remains high.

We wander into the mall and there is the store. Expecting good things we go in and are disappointed. Maybe the racks are disorganized or we have to wait in a queue for too long or the assistant is rude. Perception takes a dive.

Wary of the brand now, we hesitate when we get an email from them, but decide to take a look at their online site because maybe there is something worthwhile there. The online store is impressive and we find good deals, easy layout and checkout goes smoothly. Perception is lifted again.

We come across a tweet from someone who works at the company and it is an inappropriate rant, or a blog about some poor customer service situation. Our perception takes a dive and will probably not recover because we feel these are the real people talking, not some company image.

I like to think of myself as savvy about advertising – I know the supermarket tricks to make you buy the expensive brands, I read up on products before I purchase them, etc. Looking at this stream though, I can see how much I really am influenced by media. Hardly surprising that social media has become such a boon and fear at the same time.

Companies want to control their image which is much easier through traditional media channels. But being proactive with your coverage monitoring is important because you can quickly act on a negative story and hopefully turn it to something positive or at least mitigate further damage.

An example I came across the other day was Whole Foods. They have had some bad press lately for something – not sure what, but it lowered my perception of them. Not interested enough to go research out if the issue had merit or not. Then I watch Top Chef and they always use Whole Foods. My perception is restored because I figure these people should know what good food is and if it is good enough for them then that is fine with me.

Not that I ever shop at Whole Foods, but if I had one near me, I would at least visit it!