If you always feel like somebody’s watching you, you’re right. This time it’s the coupons. No joke – well maybe part of a very weak one. Coupons are the latest in a long list of items following your digital breadcrumbs around. On your dining table and in your wallet, coupons may look like just another piece of printed paper headed for the landfill. But once redeemed for a percentage off a purchase, or a free item with another purchase, they come to life – as spies. They get to know you then they gossip about your habits.
All coupons have bar codes, but the ones most likely to pick up your trail are the ones printed from web sites. Think of those innocent looking bar codes as eyes, watching your every move. Well, not every move, but rather the behaviors that matter in the marketing business. One company involved in this is RevTrax, the folks who might carry out an analysis of say, your last Ruby Tuesday coupon. It keeps tabs on web sites you may have visited and via the coupons you use, tracks your offline behavior after visiting those web sites.
Your digital data is then picked apart to help marketers figure out the best way to develop a relationship with you. Should they send you coupons? Should they send you spam? Should they send it to your house? Would you click it with your mouse? Regardless, privacy advocates think of this as other cringe inducing aspect of life but others believe it’s just part of living in the digital age, except with much more detail. And the end, as a consumer, you win because this is one case where you may eventually always get the coupons that you want.
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