Online retailers have long gathered behavioral metrics about how customers shop, tracking their movements through e-shopping pages and using data to make targeted offers based on user profiles. Retailers in meat-space have had tried to replicate that with frequent shopper offers, store credit cards, and other ways to get shoppers to voluntarily give up data on their behavior, but these efforts have lacked the sort of data capacity provided by anonymous store browsers—at least until now. This holiday season, shopping malls in the US have started collecting data about shoppers by tracking the closest thing to “cookies” human beings carry—their cell phones.
The article points out that we already give away all kinds of consumer info about ourselves. Credit card purchases can be analyzed, our grocery shopping habits can be tracked, we post insanely detailed things about our private lives on Facebook. But in those cases, I know that I’m giving the information away. This seems different. Does it mean that I’m going take the battery out of my cell phone when I go to the mall? I don’t know.
But it would be fun to fuck with the system a little bit. Think of the flash mob potential. Or better yet, something a little less obvious: borrow someone’s phone for the day and jog back and forth between Cinnabon, Victoria’s Secret, and an upscale sustainable furniture joint. Or have your friend take your phone to the mall while you have a shootout with police drones (real is good, imaginary is better) and you can say that you were in the arcade the whole time (do malls even have arcades anymore?).Related: Popular: